International notebook: Aaron Russell MVP as Trentino wins club title

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Aaron Russell celebrates with the rest of the Dream Team after being named MVP at the FIVB Club World Championships/FIVB photo

This is Blair Lambert’s VolleyballMag.com weekly men’s professional volleyball report, featuring Americans around the world. Got a note about a player or a comment for Blair? Email him at blairlambert2@gmail.com

This edition of the notebook includes recaps of Americans competing in the Club World Championships, CEV Cup, Italy, Poland, Brazil, Germany, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, and Switzerland. There were no American players in action in Russia this week as both players on Russian teams were busy at the World Club Championships.

Club World Championships: This was quite a remarkable and interesting tournament. Aaron Russell was named the MVP after Trentino won a record fifth tournament championship. The Italian club went 5-0 throughout the week with wins over Khatam Ardakan of Iran (3-0), Sada Cruzeiro of Brazil (3-1) and Asseco Resovia of Poland (3-0) in the group stage. Trentino disposed of Fakel Nova Urengoy of Russia in the semifinals (3-1), and topped fellow Italian club Lube Civitanova in the finals (3-1).

Aaron Russell led the finals with 20 points, including seven in the fourth and final set. He scored on 18 kills, hitting .555, a block, and an ace. 

Erik Shoji won a bronze medal with Fakel Urengoy. The Russian club opened the tournament with a 3-2 win over Zenit Kazan, the defending Russian, European, and World Champions. Fakel followed it up with a 3-2 win over PGE Skra Belchatow before dropping the final match of the pool 3-0 to Lube Civitanova. After falling to Trentino in the semifinals, Shoji and his team defeated Asseco Resovia of Poland in bronze medal match (3-1).

Asseco Resovia, a team that has only won a single match thus far in the Polish PlusLiga, made it to the semifinals after beating Sada Cruzeiro (3-2) and Khatam Ardakan (3-0). Resovia lost the next three matches to Trentino (3-0), Lube Civitanova (3-1), and Fakel Nova Urengoy (3-1). Kawika Shoji ran the offense for Resovia as setter, and Dave Smith scored 37 points for the tournament on 23 kills, seven blocks, and seven aces. Sada Cruzeiro, three-time winners of the tournament, did not even reach the semifinals after losing to Asseco Resovia and Trentino. Taylor Sander scored 40 points while only playing in the first two matches. Sada Cruzeiro’s only victory came against Khatam Ardakan in the final match of the pool.

Zenit Kazan, the defending world champions, were also knocked out of the tournament at the group stage after losing to Fakel Nova Urengoy and falling to Lube Civitanova (3-2). In the match against Lube, Zenit was up 14-9 in the fifth set before dropping the set and the match 19-17 in a run that included 4 kills from Robertlandy Simon in the middle. Matt Anderson scored 33 points for Zenit in the first two matches. He and the other starters did not feature in the last match of the group: a 3-1 victory over PGE Skra Belchatow.

Among the notable developments from this competition is that all four teams in the semifinals were wild card entries. The host team (PGE Skra Belchatow) and the teams automatically qualifying as continental champions (Zenit Kazan, Khatam Ardakan, and Sada Cruzeiro) were all eliminated after the group stage.

Trentino, the champions, are not even competing in Europe’s top competition this season. Due to finishing in fourth place last season in the Italian SuperLega, Trentino is competing in the CEV Cup and not the CEV Champions League.

While Trentino has won the tournament five times, this is the first time the club has won the championship outside of Qatar. Trentino won four in a row from 2009 to 2012. Each of those editions of the tournament took place in Doha, Qatar.

CEV Cup: Matthew Pollock scored one point from a block while starting in the final set of a 3-2 win for Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching over Vojvodina NS Seme Novi Sad.

Ryan Manoogian was used as the libero in the first two sets for Viking TIF ergen in the club’s 3-2 win over Forde VBK. Manoogian passed 56 percent of his serve receptions positively.

Dan McDonnell scored eight points on three kills, three blocks, and two aces in a 3-0 loss to CV Teurel of Spain. McDonnell hit .000 in the defeat.

Italy: Kupono Fey came off the bench in the first, third, and fourth sets while starting the fifth set for Globo Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora in a 3-2 win over Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia. Fey scored one point on one kill with a .000 attack average, but he led the team with 75 percent of his service receptions being rated as positive.

Micah Christenson set Azimut Leo Shoes Modena to a .382 hitting percentage in a 3-0 win over Vero Volley Monza. Christenson also contributed two aces in the win. Max Holt was not in the lineup for Modena as he was hit with vertigo. There is not yet a timetable for his return.

Jonah Seif was used as a substitute in the second and third sets for Sir Safety Conad Perugia in a 3-0 win over Consar Ravenna. Seif scored a point from a block. Wilfredo Leon led the way again for Perugia with 17 points on 12 kills and five aces.

Poland: Jake Langlois and MKS Będzin ran into the Polish juggernaut of ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle on Friday. Aleksandr Sliwka led ZAKSA to a comfortable 3-0 sweep with 13 points. Jake Langlois started the third set and scored three points. His points came fro 2 kills and an ace with a .222 hitting percentage. ZAKSA is still unbeaten this season.

Brazil: Price Jarman started at middle and scored five points for Volei Um Itapeininga in a 3-1 win against Caramuru Volei. Jarman scored on two kills, two blocks, and one ace with a .400 hitting percentage.

Germany: Volleyball Bisons Buhl beat VCO Berlin this past weekend in five sets behind 19 points from Jake Arnitz. The outside hitter from USC scored on 16 kills, two blocks, and one ace with a .448 hitting percentage. Arnitz followed up that performance with seven points in a 3-0 defeat to Netzhoppers SolWo Königspark KW. His points came all on kills with a .400 attack average.

SVG Luneburg scored a sweep over TV Rottenburg on Saturday. Cody Kessel scored 10 points for Luneburg on eight kills, one ace, and one block while hitting .250. Mitchell Penning scored seven for Rottenburg in the middle from three blocks, three kills, and one ace. Penning did not commit an error in attack and hit .500.

Tanner Syftestad was used as a substitute for the United Volleys Frankfurt in a 3-1 win over VCO Berlin. A complete stat sheet was not released for the match by the end of the weekend.

Matthew Pollock scored seven points on six kills and a block in the middle as Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching swept Berlin Recycling Volleys. Pollock hit a perfect 1.000 in the victory. Jeff Jendryk played in the first set for Berlin and scored one point on a kill in five attempts for a .200 hitting percentage. Ben Patch started at opposite and scored 11 points from 11 kills with a .300 attack average. Dustin Watten passed 40 percent of his receptions in serve receive positively. Kyle Russell was used as a substitute in the first set but did not score any points.

France: Chaumont was in action twice this past week. The runners up from 2018 played Arago de Sete on Wednesday to make up a match from the second week of the season due to a conflict with the Champions League schedule. Chaumont earned a sweep with Taylor Averill scoring 11 points on five kills, four blocks, and two aces. Averill hit .222. Chaumont played Nice on Friday and claimed another 3-0 victory with Michael Saeta setting the team to a .402 hitting percentage. Saeta was the second-leading scorer with 12 points on six kills, one block, and five aces. Taylor Averill scored seven points on five kills and two aces.

Dan McDonnell scored seven points on three kills, two blocks, and two aces for Tourcoing in its 3-0 loss to Poitiers. McDonnell had a tough outing in attack, hitting only .142.

Mitch Stahl came off the bench after the first set and started the last four sets for Tours in a 3-2 victory over Nantes Reze. Stahl finished the match with nine points from six kills and three blocks with a .556 hitting percentage.

Belgium: Knack Roeselare beat VBC Waremme in a sweep to remain undefeated. Sam Holt started at outside hitter and scored 10 points from nine kills and a service ace with a .158 attack average.

Czech Republic: Mitch Beal was not utilized in VK Ostrava’s 3-0 win over CEZ Karlovarsko on Saturday. Jalen Penrose was used as a substitute in the first set but did not register any points. Matt Walsh scored six points on six kills with a .455 attack average in AERO Odolena Voda’s 3-1 loss to VK Dukla Liberec. Kevin Gear came off the bench in the first set for Odolena Voda and played the remainder of the match, scoring seven points on five kills, one block, and one ace.

Finland:  Arvis Greene started for VaLePa on Saturday in a 3-0 win over Kokkolan Tiikerit. He led his team with 19 points on 17 kills and 2 blocks. Greene came off the bench in the fourth set and started the fifth set for VaLePa in its 3-2 win over Etta Oulu on Sunday. He finished the match with six points on five kills and one ace with a .364 hitting percentage.

Matt West set Hurrikaani Loimaa to a .438 attack average in a sweep of Akaa-Volley. West also scored a point from a block.

Oliver Martin didn’t play for Team Lakkapää in the club’s 3-0 loss to Raison Loimu.

Switzerland: Scott Fifer started at setter for TV Schönenwerd in a 3-1 loss to Lausanne UC. Unfortunately a stat sheet was not released after the match.

Lucas Yoder scored six points as Biogas Volley Näfels beat Chênois Genève Volleyball in straight sets. Yoder hit .188 while registering five kills and a block.  

Looking ahead
Germany: Volleyball Bisons Buhl vs. SVG Luneburg, December 8th
This matchup pits two American outside hitters against each other. Jake Arnitz had a breakout weekend this past week while Cody Kessel has been producing at a consistently high level for Luneburg throughout the season. Luneburg is sitting in third place, just two points behind VfB Friedrichshafen.

Russia: Zenit Kazan vs. Fakel Nova Urengoy, December 5th
These two teams faced off at the Club World Championships with Fakel prevailing in five sets. It was a tournament to forget for Zenit, who did not advance out of the group stage. Fakel ended up winning the bronze medal. Both teams have the same record in the Russian Super League, but Kazan has one more point as it is currently in first place. This match will decide who is the leader heading into the last weekend before the Russian Cup.

Italy: Revivre Axopower Milan vs. Cucine Lube Civitanova, December 9th
Milan is coming off of a commanding 3-1 win over Calzedonia Verona where they thwarted Stephen Boyer. Milan got to rest last week as their opponent, Trentino, was in Poland winning the Club World Championships. Lube played five matches last week, falling in the finals of the Club World Championships. Considering the two completely different situations that these teams come into the match, this could be a match where Milan can pull off an upset.

 

 

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