Editor’s note: This is Blair Lambert’s VolleyballMag.com weekly men’s professional volleyball report, featuring Americans around the world. He missed last week due to illness, but this will certainly get fans who follow the pros up to date. Got a note about a player or a comment for Blair? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cup competitions and domestic matches took place over the last two weeks, and an American player from Team USA made his professional debut in France.
Three stars: This week’s picks were difficult to make because many players had multiple matches with inconsistent performances. A player may have been the MVP in one match, but hit less than .200 in another outing. Another player produced over 25 points in one match and then struggled to find kills at a high rate a few days later. This week’s star players produced each time they walked on the court and deserve this recognition.
Matt Anderson, outside hitter, Leo Shoes Modena, Italy: Anderson had his first breakout games since moving back to the outside hitter position from opposite in the SuperCoppa. He scored 17 and 22 points in the semifinals and finals, respectively. Anderson hit .433 and .760 against Lube Civitanova and Sir Safety Perugia, the two teams who reached the Italian Superlega and CEV Champions League finals last year.
Joe Worsley, setter, VfB Friedrichshafen, Germany: While Worsley has not established himself as the starting setter for Friedrichshafen, he seized an opportunity when it was given to him. Being a rookie at one of Germany’s top clubs means that the role of the starter must be earned. After dropping the first set to Netzhopperz KW-Bestensee, Worsley was handed the reigns to the offense and responded quite effectively. He set Friedrichshafen to a .400 attack average and led the club to victory in the next three sets. Worsley was named the most valuable player of the match.
TJ DeFalco, outside hitter, Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia, Italy: DeFalco came into the SuperLega as a highly-touted rookie after spending the last two summers with the United States national team. While his club is at the bottom of the table again, DeFalco is adjusting nicely to one of, if not the top, professional league in the world. He racked up 17 kills against Itas Trentino, and hit .483 in the process. He followed that up with an 18-kill performance with a .403 hitting percentage in a narrow defeat to Gas Sales Piacenza.
Micah Ma’a update: Stade de Poiteven Poitiers announced the signing of Micah Ma’a back on June 3. The setter/outside hitter who just finished his collegiate career at UCLA joined a handful of national team members who returned late to their respective club teams due to participation in the FIVB World Cup, which ended on October 15. Poitiers had already played two matches by the conclusion of the World Cup. While every other player on Team USA’s roster reported to their respective club teams, Ma’a was still waiting for his visa to be issued. His November 5 Instagram post was captioned “France I’m coming for you!” He arrived and played his first match against Toulouse this past Saturday.
Italy: All but one of the SuperLega matches were postponed this weekend due to the SuperCoppa happening on Friday and Saturday. Sir Safety Perugia hoisted the trophy, beating Azimut Leo Shoes Modena in five sets. Perugia defeated Itas Trentino to reach the finals, and Modena disposed of Lube Civitanova in the other semifinal matchup.
Matt Anderson started off the tournament with 17 points on 16 kills and a block against Lube Civitanova on Friday in a 3-1 win. The outside hitter who spent the last seven seasons at Zenit Kazan hit .433 in the win. Max Holt scored 11 points in the middle from six kills, three blocks and two aces. Holt hit .667 without committing an error in attack. Micah Christenson scored points from a block and two aces while setting Modena to a .374 hitting percentage.
Aaron Russell scored 16 points for Trentino in a 3-1 defeat to Perugia. He hit .320 on his way to 11 kills to go along with three blocks and two aces. Wilfredo Leon was the star of the match for Perugia, putting away 12 kills, two blocks and five aces.
Leon’s serving was the deciding factor for Perugia in the final, which Perugia claimed 3-2. Modena had more blocks, more kills, a better attack average and a better passing percentage. But Perugia had Leon and his seven service aces. He went back to the service line with the fifth set tied at nine points, and that was all Perugia needed to win the match. Anderson scored 22 points from 19 kills, three aces, and an extraordinary .760 attack average form the left side. Holt hit .333 in the middle with five kills, two blocks, and one ace. Christenson set Modena to a .445 hitting percentage while scoring from a block and a kill.
Calzedonia Verona defeated Gas Sales Piacenza in five sets in the only SuperLega match to take place over the weekend. Garrett Muagututia scored 13 points in his first start for Verona. His points came all from kills, and he hit .500. Corey Chavers was used as a substitute in the third set but did not record any stats. Jennings Franciskovic was not featured in the match for Verona, who was led by Stephen Boyer’s 26 points.
Leo Shoes Modena made quick work of Kupono Fey and Globo Banca Popolare Frusinate del Sora on November 7. Anderson led the scoring for Modena with 13 on eight kills, one ace and four service aces. Anderson hit .467 and split the passing duties with Zaytsev and Bartosz Bednorz. Max Holt finished with five points on three kills, one block and one ace. He hit .333 in two sets of play as he was not on the court for the third set. Christenson set Modena to a .478 attack average and added a kill to the stat sheet. Fey came in to pass in the third set of the match and completed two service receptions.
TJ DeFalco scored 17 points on 17 kills on November 6 in a 3-1 defeat to Itas Trentino. The rookie from Long Beach State hit .483 for Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia. He also led the team with 70 percent positive passes, 40 percent perfect passes, and had a team-high 25 service receptions. Aaron Russell essentially got the night off for Trentino, being used as a substitute in the second and fourth sets but not scoring any points.
Russell and Muagututia squared off on November 9 when Trentino defeated Verona in five sets. Russell led Trentino with 20 points on 15 kills, three blocks, and two aces while hitting .310. Muagututia scored 18 for Verona. He put away 14 kills, one block, and had a team-high three aces with a .392 hitting percentage. Chavers and Franciskovic did not feature in the match for Verona.
Modena earned its second sweep of the week on Sunday when it defeated Consar Ravenna. Christenson and Holt both finished with three service aces. Holt also added four kills and a block with a .222 hitting percentage. Christenson set Modena to a .423 attack average while adding a kill and a block. Anderson finished with five kills and an ace, hitting .500 in the process.
Fey came off the bench for Sora in the first set and played the rest of the match in a five-set defeat to Kioene Padova. He scored on two kills and one block while hitting .100, but he led the team in passing with 67 percent positive and 33 percent excellent passes.
DeFalco led Vibo Valentia with 21 points in a five-set loss to Piacenza on Sunday. He posted 18 kills with a .405 hitting percentage. DeFalco also scored on a block and a service ace.
Russia: It was a week of highs and lows for Erik Shoji and Fakel Novy Urengoy. The club dropped a 3-2 decision to Ugra-Samotlor Nizhnevartovsk on October 30. Shoji led the match with 63 percent positive and 3 percent perfect passes. Fakel bounced back and defeated Zenit Kazan in three sets on November 3. Shoji again led the match with 63 percent positive receptions and 38 percent perfect. Fakel swept Zenit St. Petersburg on November 9. Shoji led his team with 39 percent perfect passes.
Poland: David Smith was still out with a calf injury for ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Kozle, who defeated Jastrzebski Wegiel in three sets on November 3. He started the match against Ślepsk Malow Suwałki on November 6 and scored three points on three kills. He played the first two sets and hit a perfect 1.000 in his time on the court. Smith came off the bench in the first set and finished the match in a 3-1 victory over Aluron Virtu CMC Zawiercie on Monday. He put away four kills and two blocks, hitting .500 for the night.
Dustin Watten started at libero for GKS Katowice and passed 25.81 percent of his receptions perfectly in a five-set loss to Trefl Gdansk back on November 2. He followed it up with 45.45 percent perfect passes in a 3-2 defeat to Indykpol AZS Olsztyn on November 8.
Josh Tuaniga and Ślepsk Malow Suwałki dropped its second match of the season in four sets to Projekt Warsaw on November 4. Tuaniga set Suwałki to a .300 hitting percentage and chipped in two kills of his own. As mentioned earlier, his team lost to ZAKSA on November 6 with Tuaniga not getting the start at setter. He came off the bench in the second and third sets before starting the fourth set of the defeat.
Kawika Shoji started at setter for Asseco Resovia Rzeszów but was replaced in the second set of a 3-1 defeat to Indykpol AZS Olsztyn. Shoji scored four points on an ace, a kill, and two blocks before leaving the match. He was used as a substitute on Saturday in a 3-1 win over Cuprum Lubin. Shoji completed six serves during his time on the court.
France: The French Cup conducted two rounds over the past two weeks. Unfortunately the stats for this competition are not published as they for Ligue A matches. Poitiers, Tours, Paris, and Toulouse are all onto the semifinals.
Max Chamberlain was utilized as a substitute in the second and fourth sets for Tourcoing in a 3-2 victory over Nice. Chamberlain finished the match with two kills on two attempts. He came off the bench on November 9 in a 3-1 win over Narbonne. He played in the third and fourth sets, attempting two serves.
AS Cannes lost its first Ligue A match to Sete on November 1. Kyle Russell led Cannes with 16 points on 15 kills and an ace while hitting .264. Matt West set Cannes to a .280 hitting percentage and did not score any points in the defeat. Cannes dropped its second match on November 9 to Ajaccio in five sets. Russell led the way with 30 points on 27 kills, one block and two aces. He hit .291 from the right side. West posted three blocks, one kill and one ace while setting Cannes to a .265 attack average.
James Shaw scored 14 points from 13 kills and a block for Narbonne in a 3-0 defeat to Montpellier. Shaw posted a .333 attack average in the loss. He hit .242 on his way to 14 kills and a block in a 3-1 loss to Tourcoing this past Saturday.
Tours earned its second victory in Ligue A this season with a sweep of Ajaccio. Price Jarman was not utilized in the match for Tours. That victory was followed up by a sweep at the hands of Rennes on November 9. Jarman was not featured in that match.
Chaumont swept Nantes Reze on Saturday, giving the club its second loss of the season. Mitch Stahl scored five points in the middle for Chaumont. He was only set three times and converted on two of those attempts for a .667 hitting percentage. Stahl also added two blocks and an ace. Stahl scored seven on November 8 in a 3-2 win against Nice. He started the first three sets and was replaced by Andre Radke in the third. Stahl hit .000 while earning two kills, two blocks, and three aces.
Germany: VfB Friedrichshafen dropped the first set to Netzhopperz KW-Bestensee on November 9. Joe Worsley entered the match in the second set and set the team to a 3-1 victory with a .400 attack average. He also scored two points from a block and a kill. Brendan Schmidt played the whole game at middle blocker for the victors, hitting .333 and finished with four kills.
Leo Durkin came off the bench as a serving substitute, attempting seven serves for SVG Lüneburg in a 3-1 loss to United Volleys Frankfurt. Michael Michelau was not featured in the match for Lüneburg.
Michael Wexter scored 20 points for Helios Grizzlys Giesen, but his club fell to Volleyball Bisons Buhl in four sets. Wexter had 15 kills, four blocks and an ace in the defeat while posting a .159 hitting percentage on 44 attempts. David Wieczorek came off the bench in the first set and started the second set, scoring on two kills with a .222 attack efficiency.
The Berlin Recycling Volleys earned a sweep over WWK Volleys Herrsching on Saturday. Jeff Jendryk was the top-scoring American player for Berlin with 10 points in the middle. He finished with six kills, three blocks and an ace with a .625 hitting percentage. Ben Patch scored nine points on six kills and three aces while hitting .250. JT Hatch came off the bench in the first two sets and started the final set. He ended up hitting .600 on his way to four kills. Kyle Ensing and Cody Kessel were not in the lineup for Berlin. Jalen Penrose led Herrsching with 10 points. He put away nine kills with a .227 hitting percentage and added an ace from the service line.
Mitch Penning scored eight points in the middle for TV Rottenburg in a 3-0 defeat to SWD Powervolleys Duren on Saturday. He hit .538 with no errors in attack on the night and finished with six kills to go with two blocks. Karl Apfelbach came into the game in the third set and scored three points on two kills and a block. His kills came on three swings for a .667 attack average.
Belgium: Joe Norman came off the bench for Knack Roeselare in its 3-1 win over Decospan Volley Team Menen on November 3. He finished with one kill on two attack attempts. He was used as a substitute on November 9 in a match against BDO Haasrode Leuven but did not score any points.
Czech Republic: Ústí nad Labem and Zach Melcher dropped a match to České Budějovice, a Champions League team, in three sets on November 9. Melcher scored three points from two kills and a block while setting his team to a .141 hitting percentage. Two days prior, Ústí nad Labem played a rescheduled match against Zlín and lost in four sets. Melcher set the team to a .225 attack average and contributed a kill in the loss.
Scott Fifer’s Příbram lost to Bskydy in four sets on Saturday. Fifer finished the match with three blocks and an ace. He set Příbram to a .174 attack average.
Kevin Gear scored seven points in the middle for Odolena Voda as it defeated Kladno in five sets. Gear lead the match with four blocks to go with three kills and an ace. He hit .125 on the night.
Matt August scored 10 points in the middle for Brno in a five-set victory over Zlín. He scored three points from the service line and had a .364 hitting percentage.
Finland: Blake Leeson helped Raison Loimu earn a pair of five-set wins over Etta Oulu and Team Lakkapää this past week. He opened the week with 13 points on eight kills and five blocks against Etta Oulu. Leeson also hit .462 with only one error in attack. He committed no errors in attack against Team Lakkapää. Leeson finished with seven kills and a .700 hitting percentage to go with a block.
Josh Ayzenberg and Savo Voley played one match last week; a sweep over Kokkolan Tiikerit. While Tiikierit tried to avoid Ayzenberg with the serve, the libero passed 50 percent of his eight service receptions positively and 25 percent perfectly.
Ryan Manoogian and Team Lakkapää had a tough week, suffering three losses to Akaa-Volley, Karelian Hurmos, and Raison Loimu. In a 3-0 sweep of the Vantaa Ducks on Saturday, he had a 54 percent positive and 15 percent perfect performance. Manoogian passed at least 60 percent of his service receptions positively in the three matches (67, 67 and 62 percent respectively). He also had 14 percent, 17 percent, and three percent of his receptions rated as perfect in the three matches respectively.
Kyle Foley started the first four sets for Karelian Hurmos in a five-set defeat of Team Lakkapää. He ended up with two kills and an ace while setting Hurmos to a .333 hitting percentage. Foley started in the fourth set of a 3-1 loss to Kokkolan Tiikerit and set his team to a .258 mark in attack. He also scored from a kill and a block.
MEZVA: ACH Volley has gone 1-1 so far in the month of November after playing two teams who are also in the Champions League. Kyle Dagostino passed 63 percent of his receptions positively and 47 percent perfectly to help earn a 3-1 win over OK Mladost Brcko on November 2. SK Zadruga AICH/DOB, an Austrian powerhouse, got the best of ACH on November 9. Dagostino produced a similar 68 and 44 percent passing performance.
Netherlands: Mitch Perinar scored five points in the middle for SAMEN Lycurgus in a 3-1 victory over Advisie-SSS HS 1. Lycurgus remains at the top of the Dutch Eredivisie. Colin Mahan was not in the lineup for Lycurgus.
Italy: Perugia vs. Vibo Valentiam, November 17 — This should not be a close match. Perugia is one of the best teams in all of Europe while Vibo Valentia is one of the weakest in the Italian SuperLega. One interesting note however is that TJ DeFalco will be facing Europe’s top competition. He has had a great past few matches, but not against teams towards the top of the standings.
Milano vs. Trentino, November 17 — Milano is playing great volleyball behind Nimir Abdel-Aziz, already beating Perugia. Milano is currently in fourth position. Trentino is in second place and is one of three teams who are undefeated in the SuperLega. A win in three or four sets would propel Milano past Trentino and into third place. Russell has been consistent and reliable for Trentino so far this year.