This is Blair Lambert’s 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

This edition of the notebook includes recaps of Americans competing in the CEV Champions League, CEV Cup, CEV Challenge Cup, Italy, Russia, Poland, Brazil, Germany, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, and Switzerland. League play in Norway is on hiatus until the middle of January.

CEV Champions League Pool A: Zenit Kazan mainly used reserves in a 3-1 victory over Knack Roeselare. Denis Butko, Matt Anderson, and Maxim Mikhailov spent much of their time on the bench. Anderson was briefly used as a substitute in the third set and did not score a point. Sam Holt started and played the whole match for Knack Roeselare. The former Northridge Matador finished with six points on five kills and a block with a .048 hitting percentage.

In the other match in the pool, United Volleys Frankfurt swept Halkbank Ankara. Tanner Syftestad was used as a substitute in all three sets for Frankfurt. He finished the match with five points (all from kills) and a .571 attack average from the right side.

Zenit Kazan is predictably at the top of the pool with six points from a pair of wins. United Volleys is in second place with three points, and it has already played Zenit once. Halkbank Ankara also has a win but only two points due to going five sets with Greenyard Maaseik, who’s only point has come from that match.

CEV Champions League Pool B: Jalen Penrose was used as a substitute for CEZ Karlovarsko in a 3-0 loss to Lube Civitanova. Penrose scored four points on four kills while hitting .063. One of his kills included a shot off of Tsvetan Sokolov. While it was mentioned as a possibility in last week’s notebook, Brenden Sander saw the court for Lube in the third set. The rookie outside hitter from BYU scored a point on a kill in eight attempts with a minus .013 attack average.

Micah Christenson, Max Holt and the rest of Modena handed ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle its first defeat in any competition on Wednesday by virtue of a 3-1 decision. Christenson set Modena to a .343 attack efficiency while scoring six points on four kills, 2 aces, and a block. Holt contributed five points on five kills with a .444 hitting percentage. Modena was led by Ivan Zaytsev’s 18 points (17 kills, one block), who hit .313.

Lube Civitanova is in first place in the pool with six points from two wins after a pair of matches. ZAKSA and Modena both have three points with one win each, but ZAKSA is currently in second place due to sets ratio. CEZ Karlovarsko is in fourth place without yet earning a point.

CEV Champions League Pool C: Michael Saeta was named the MVP in an important 3-0 win over VfB Friedrichshafen of Germany. The setter for Chaumont VB 52 scored eight points from six kills and two aces while also setting his team to a .447 attack average. Taylor Averill was Chaumont’s second-leading scorer with 11 points in the middle on eight kills and three blocks. Averill hit .800 without committing an error in attack.

Chaumont and Zenit St. Petersburg both have four points in the standings since Zenit went five sets with ACH Volley of Slovenia. VfB Friedrichshafen is in third place with three points on one win. ACH Volley has one point earned from the five-set loss to Zenit, but it has not gotten its first win yet in the competition.

CEV Champions League Pool D: The Berlin Recycling Volleys suffered a shock defeat to a struggling Trefl Gdansk of Poland on Wednesday. Andrea Anastasi’s Polish squad was able to keep the ball away from Dustin Watten in serve receive. The American libero passed only five serves; one was a perfect pass and another was an error. Jeff Jendryk scored five points on five kills and hit .364 out of the middle. Ben Patch started at opposite for Berlin and scored eight points from seven kills and a block. The American from BYU hit .250 and was replaced by Kyle Russell in the second set. Russell, a former Anteater from UC Irvine, contributed four kills but hit .000 hitting.

This pool has become a logjam after two matches with all four teams earning three points and 1-1 records. The sweep at the hands of Gdansk has dropped Berlin down to fourth place due to points ratio. Gdansk is sitting in the first position, Greenyard Maaseik is in second place after sweeping the third-placed team, PGE Skra Belchatow.

CEV Champions League Pool E: Sir Safety Perugia picked up another three points after a 3-1 victory over Tours VB. Jonah Seif was used as a substitute in the first, third, and fourth sets. Wilfredo Leon led Perugia again with 24 points and Aleksandar Atanasijevic was right behind with 20. The duo on the left and right pins have become very accustomed to each other, and Lucian DeCecco has figured out how to set Perugia’s offense very efficiently. Mitch Stahl was utilized as a substitute for Tours in the fourth set and earned a block.

Perugia joins Zazan and Lube as the only teams with six points and a 2-0 record. Tours and Dynamo Moscow both sit on three points with one win. After losing to Dynamo Moscow and Tours, Arkas Izmir of Turkey is in last place of the pool with no points.

CEV Cup: Aaron Russell scored eight points for Itas Trentino in a 3-0 win over German Bundesliga-leading Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching on Thursday. Russell’s points came by way of eight kills and an impressive .538 hitting percentage from the left side. Luca Vettori led Trentino with 18 points, and Uros Kovacevic chipped in 11. Matt Pollock came into the match during the second set or the Alpenvolleys and finished the match. He scored two points on a kill and a block. The two teams will meet again in the middle of January. The German side will have to win in three or four sets to force a Golden Set for the chance to advance to the quarterfinals.

TIF Viking of Norway met stiff competition against Neftohomic 2010 Burgas of Bulgaria. Ryan Manoogian was used as a libero in the third and fourth sets of a 3-1 defeat for Viking TIF. The Norwegian club must go on the road in the middle of January and defeat Neftohimic in three or four sets for the chance to play a Golden Set and advance to the next round.

Arvis Greene was not utilized by VaLePa in its 3-2 win over Kladno Voleijbol CZ. VaLePa will have to win when the teams play again next month to advance. If Kladno wins in three or four sets, it will advance. If Kladno wins in five sets, the matchup will go to a Golden Set.

Brazil: The Brazilian Superliga finished the first half of the regular season this past weekend. Sada Cruzeiro dropped a five-set decision to William Arjona and SESI-SP. Taylor Sander posted a match-high 21 points in the loss with 20 kills and an ace with a .485 hitting percentage. Sander also led the team in serve receive with 81 percent of his passes rated as positive and 52 percent being perfect. Sada Cruzeiro is in second place heading into the year-end break.

Price Jarman scored two points on two kills in the first two sets for Volei Um Itapeninga in a 3-0 loss to Volei Renata.

Italy: Micah Christenson ran a very diverse and efficient offense for Azimut Leo Shoes Modena in a 3-1 victory over Calzedonia Verona. All five attacking players for Modena scored double-digit points. Tine Urnaut led with 21 points, and Ivan Zaytsev contributed 15. Bartosz Bednorz, Max Holt, and Simone Anzani all finished the match with 12 points. Holt scored on nine kills and 3 blocks with a .667 attack average. Christenson set Modena to a .425 hitting percentage in the win.

Aaron Russell scored 20 points for Trentino in a 3-2 win over Vero Volley Monza. Russell hit .314 with 19 kills and eight errors in attack. The American outside hitter also posted a block in the win. Srecko Lisinac scored 12 points in the middle for Trentino while Uros Kovacevic chipped in 19 while leading the team in serve receive. The match going to a fifth set led to Trentino dropping a point and falling two points behind Perugia.

Sir Safety Perugia handled Revivre Axopower Milano in a quick 3-0 sweep behind 17 points from Aleksandar Atanasijevic and 11 from Wilfredo Leon. Jonah Seif was used as a substitute in all three sets.

Lube Civitanova also put together a sweep over Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia. Robertlandy Simon hit .700 while scoring 11 points on eight kills, two aces, and one block in the middle for Lube. Brenden Sander was not utilized in this match. The win kept Lube in third place.

Globo Banca Poplare del Frusinate Sora earned its fifth win of the season with a 3-1 decision over BCC Castellana Grotte. Kupono Fey started at outside hitter and led Sora in serve receive with 77 percent of his passes being classified as positive. Fey scored six points on four kills, an ace, and a block.

Russia: Matt Anderson played two sets in a sweep over Nova Novokuibyshevsk on Sunday in a match where Zenit Kazan rested many starters. Anderson scored six points from four kills, one block, and one ace while hitting .429.

Fakel Novy Urengoy remained in second place with a 3-1 victory over Dynamo Moscow. Gold medalist setter from the United States National Team, Lloy Ball, was in attendance to watch Erik Shoji pass 75 percent of his service receptions positively.

Poland: Asseco Resovia Rzeszów put together another win, this time over Dave Smith’s former team, Cerrad Czarni Radom. Smith scored 11 points from seven kills, three blocks, and one ace. Shoji did not feature in the match for Resovia due to the foreign quota rule.

MKS Będzin suffered yet another defeat, this time at the hands of Trefl Gdansk. Jake Langlois scored three points on two kills and an ace with a .000 attack average.

Germany: The Berlin Recycling Volleys avenged their loss in the German Cup last week to SVG Lüneburg with a 3-2 win. Kyle Russell was the match’s leading scorer. The opposite from Berlin came off the bench in the first set to finished with 25 points on 19 kills, three blocks, and three aces. Russell hit .325 in the win and replaced Ben Patch, who scored points on two kills before leaving the match. Jeff Jendryk did not start for Berlin, but played in every set but the first. Jendry scored three points on a kill, a block, and an ace. Dustin Watten was named the MVP of the match for Berlin at libero. Cody Kessel was named the MVP for SVG Lüneburg with 18 points on 14 kills and 4 blocks. Kessel hit .480 with only two attack errors from the outside. The loss for SVG Lüneburg kept the club in third place, while Berlin is in sixth.

Nick West scored 10 points at opposite for WWK Volleys Herrsching in a 3-1 win over Netzhoppers SolWo Königspark KW. West scored on eight kills and two blocks while hitting .263. Griffin Shields was used as a substitute in the first, third and fourth sets, scoring eight points for Herrsching. Shields hit .545 on his way to seven kills, and he also registered a block. Herrsching sits in seventh place after this past weekend.

Jake Arnitz scored 10 points for Volleyball Bisons Buhl in a sweep suffered at the hands of SWD powervolleys Duren. Arnitz scored on nine kills and an ace with a .352 attack average. Buhl is now in ninth place after the defeat.

Matthew Pollock started the match in the middle and played the first two sets, but he did not score any points for Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching in a 3-0 defeat to United Volleys Frankfurt. That was Unterhaching’s first defeat in the German Bundesliga this season after dropping the match to Trentino in the CEV Cup earlier in the week, though they still remain in first place. Tanner Syftestad was used as a substitute in the first and third sets for Frankfurt but did not score a point.

Helios Grizzlys Giesen picked up its first win of the season over TV Rottenburg. Antwain Aguillard was used as a substitute for Giesen, but did not register any points. Mitch Penning started for Rottenburg and scored four points on three kills and a block. The middle blocker from Pepperdine hit .125 in the loss. Both clubs have one win on the season

France: Chaumont moved into fourth place with a 3-1 victory against Tourcoing. Michael Saeta scored eight points on six kills, one block and an ace from the service line. Saeta continues to wreak havoc on opposing defenses with his left arm in attack on the second contact, hitting .857 without committing an attack error. He also set Chaumont to a .426 attack average. Taylor Averill scored nine points in the middle for the victors on seven kills and two blocks with a .600 hitting percentage. Dan McDonnell had a productive match in the middle for Tourcoing with 12 points. McDonnell hit .538 with eight kills, two aces, and two blocks.

Mitch Stahl did not play for Tours VB in a 3-1 win over Nice.

Belgium: Sam Holt was used as a substitute in the last set of Knack Roeselare’s 3-1 defeat to Greenyard Maaseik in the semifinals of the Beker van België competition. He did not score any points.

Czech Republic: CEZ Karlovarsko dropped a match to VK Jihostroj České Budějovice with a 3-1 result. Jalen Penrose was used as a substitute in the first, third, and fourth sets. He finished with one kill on three attempts.

Kevin Gear scored nine points from the middle on eight kills and a block while hitting .400 in AERO Odolena Voda’s 3-1 loss to Kladno Voleijbol CZ. Matt Walsh started opposite of Gear at the other middle blocker position for Odolena Voda, finishing with six points on four kill, one block and one ace.

Mitch Beal came off the bench in the first and second sets before starting in the third set for VK Ostrava in a 3-0 defeat to VK Dukla Liberec. Beal produced four kills with a .167 hitting percentage..

Finland: Arvis Greene did not play for VaLePa on Saturday in a 3-0 win over Hurrikaani Loimaa. Matt West set Hurrikaani Loimaa to a .297 hitting percentage and contributed two blocks in the defeat.

Switzerland: Scott Fifer started the first and third sets for TV Schönenwerd in a quick 3-0 win over Biogas Volley Nafels. During those sets Fifer set his team to a .339 attack average. Lucas Yoder scored four points from the outside for Nafels on four kills while hitting .000. That win keeps Schönenwerd in second place with a 9-2 record and is still seven points behind Lindaren Volley Amriswil in the standings.

Looking Ahead
Italy: Itas Trentino vs. Emmas Villa Siena, December 26 — Trentino is still in second place and needs to keep pace with earning three points per match while hoping Perugia might slip up again. Emmas Villa Siena is down towards the bottom of the table, but it is tough to count out Saeid Marouf at setter. Siena also just picked up Cristian Savani to as a reinforcement. Trentino might have difficulty if it looks ahead to its match against Vero Volley Monza this weekend.

Germany: SVG Lüneburg vs. WWK Volleys Herrsching, December 29 — Cody Kessel has been playing lights-out for a team that has been exceeding expectations, but slipped up in a tie-break against the defending German Bundesliga champions last weekend. Griffin Shields and Nick West have been splitting duties at opposite and have both been contributing when given the chance. Lüneburg is trying to get itself into home court advantage through the semifinals, and Herrsching is working to solidify its position in the playoffs.

Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching vs. SWD powervolleys Duren, December 29 — The AlpenVolleys need to bounce back after a loss while Duren is coming off of a big win. Will these teams be able to remain focused after the holiday? When Unterhaching gets Matthew Pollock involved in the offense, good results usually follow.

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