This is the VolleyballMag.com men’s professional volleyball report, featuring Americans around the world. Got a note about a player or a comment ? Email Blair Lambert at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Instagram @blvolley2
There was a full slate of matches throughout the world of professional volleyball last week. Thanksgiving weekend tends to be a prominent fixture in the world of college football, but the end of November proved to provide professional volleyball fans with a number of high-profile performances, upsets, and entertaining play.
A number of American middle blockers put forth noteworthy performance this past weekend.
Taylor Averill has been a driving force behind the resurgence of AS Cannes this year in the French Ligue A and CEV Challenge Cup. Cannes moved into first place in the standings with Averill leading the way with 21 points in a four-set victory over Nice, earning the match MVP honor. The middle blocker from the University of Hawai’i scored on 10 kills, two aces, and nine blocks.
Cannes made up a rescheduled match on December 1 against Arago de Sete. Averill scored 11 points on seven kills, three blocks, and an ace with a .500 hitting percentage. He finished with more blocks than the entire opposing team. Averill is currently rated as the top middle blocker in France.
Max Holt and Vero Volley Monza have also achieved some big results in Italy. The club defeated Sir Safety Perugia in its first match back from a COVID-19 outbreak in straight sets on November 22. That was seen as healthy revenge from Filippo Lanza, who was let go by Perugia at the beginning of the season.
Holt scored four points on kills with a .500 attack average. That was first-placed Perugia’s first defeat of the year. Monza followed that up with a 3-1 win over Micah Christenson and Leo Shoes Modena on November 29. Holt was the match MVP, producing 13 points on six kills, five blocks, and an ace. Monza has won its last three matches, with its last defeat coming on November 1 to Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia. Holt and company are in sixth place with a 6-5 record.
Dave Smith and ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle came out of a COVID-19 outbreak without missing a beat. While Perugia struggled to find its form in its first match back from positive test results and subsequent quarantine, ZAKSA has earned two wins since getting back in the gym. Smith scored nine points in a 3-0 win over Stal Nysa on November 22. His scoring production came on six kills and three blocks while hitting .600.
That performance was followed up with six points from three kills and three blocks in a 3-1 decision over MKS Będzin on November 28. ZAKSA, winners of the Polish Super Cup back in August, are a perfect 10-0 in the PlusLiga. The club has only dropped five sets in league and seven sets in all competitions thus far.
Mitch Stahl had a big weekend from the service line in Belgium. The middle blocker for Greenyard Maaseik recorded seven aces in a sweep over Tectum Achel on November 28. Stahl, formerly of UCLA, finished the match with 13 points, including five kills and a block. Stahl’s .52 aces per set is the best in the Belgian Euromillions Volley League. His club is in second place (behind George Huhmann and Knack Roeselare) with a 6-1 record.
Matthew Knigge turned heads with his play in the middle last season in Spain with Arenal Emeve. The Vassar alum stayed in Spain this year and signed with CV Cuagas, He played his former club on Saturday and did not disappoint. Though red-hot Brandon Rattray produced 24 points for Arenal Emeve, Knigge scored 14 from the middle in a 3-1 victory. Knigge hit .667 without committing an error in attack on his way to 12 kills. He also chipped in a block and an ace. CV Cuagas is in fourth place at 7-2.
Matt August is in his second season with Black Volley Beskydy. His club prevailed in five sets over VK Lvi Praha on November 29. August scored nine points on three kills, one ace, and a match-high five blocks. It was the middle blocker’s first match back since the league went on a hiatus due to COVID-19.
Tommy Carmody’s Finnish club, the Vantaa Ducks, have not had the best of starts in the Mestaruusliiga. After starting the season 3-7, the Ducks picked up two wins. Carmody, a middle blocker from Pepperdine, scored 12 points on November 28 in a 3-1 win against Kokkolan Tiikerit. He hit .571 in a nine-kill performance to go along with two blocks and an ace. His club swept Etta Oulu the very next day. Carmody contributed nine points on four kills, four blocks, and a service ace.