Men’s international notebook: Big weeks for Penrose, Mahan, Knigge

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Pro men's notebook 11/20/2019-David Smith
David Smith takes a swing for ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle/

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

The biggest domestic league match of the season took place this past week. Leagues in Germany, France and Italy were in action two days this past week. The semifinals of the Russian Cup took place last weekend. There is also coverage of a few more players in European leagues this week.

Three stars: There are two players making this list for the first time. They put together some great outings that need to be recognized, and happen to play in leagues that have not been represented on this list before.  Another player makes this list for the second time this season.

Jalen Penrose, opposite, WWK Volleyball Herrsching, Germany — Penrose has been on this list before, and his two performances of 20-plus points with Herrsching has earned him another appearance on the list. He eclipsed his 20 point performance on November 13 by scoring 22 points just a few days later. While he posted a .235 attack average on November 19, he also scored six points from the service line. He averaged four aces per match and 1.14 aces per set. He also registered a .423 attack average earlier in the week.

Collin Mahan, opposite, Samen Lycurgus, Netherlands — Mahan made the list after  finishing a three-set match with 17 kills. Putting away 5.67 kills per set is quite an impressive feat for the rookie from Loyola University.

Matthew Knigge, middle blocker, Arenal Emevé, Spain — Scoring 15 points as a middle blocker is a tall task considering that so many of the opportunities in attack depend on outside factors. Knigge not only put forth an impressive scoring total, but he did so in just three sets. He averaged five points per set by earning eight kills, two aces and a match-high five blocks from the middle.

Italy: On November 13 Itas Trentino handled Gas Sales Piacenza in four sets. Aaron Russell finished the match with 15 kills, two blocks and an ace. He hit .481 in the win. Trentino was led by Luca Vettori’s 21 points.

Led by Micah Christenson, Leo Shoes Modena beat Top Volley Latina in straight sets on Wednesday to remain undefeated going into its big match against Lube Civitanova. He had a match-leading three blocks to go with a kill and two aces while setting Modena to a .315 hitting percentage. Matt Anderson led the match with 15 points from nine kills, two blocks, and a match-high four aces. Max Holt hit .250 on his way to a kill, two blocks, and an ace. It was the first match that Anderson was utilized in serve receive, a traditional role for an outside hitter. He led his team with 17 receptions to five from Ivan Zaytsev.

Lube Civitanova made a statement on November 13 by sweeping Calzedonia Verona. Garrett Muagututia led Verona with 10 points on 10 kills with a .500 hitting percentage. Corey Chavers and Jennings Franciskovic did not feature in the match for Verona.

In the other mid-week match featuring American players, Globo Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora defeated Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia in straight sets. Kupono Fey started and played the whole match at outside hitter for Sora. He scored from three kills and an ace while hitting .250. TJ DeFalco led Vibo Valentia with 11 points. His points came from nine kills and two blocks with a .318 attack average.

DeFalco followed that up with another 11-point performance on Sunday against Sir Safety Perugia. He put away 10 kills to go along with an ace, and he hit an impressive .409 against one of Europe’s best clubs. He struggled in serve receive, making five passing errors and only completing 35 percent positive passes against the service attack of Wilfredo Leon (19 points, six aces). Perugia claimed a comfortable sweep against winless Vibo Valentia.

Russell didn’t start the match against Allianz Milano, but he came off the bench in the second set to pace the team to a 3-1 victory. Russell was the most valuable player of the match for Trentino, and he scored 16 points in two and a half sets of play. He scored on 11 kills, three blocks and two aces with a .240 hitting percentage.

Verona got itself back into the win column with a 3-0 decision over Kioene Padova on Sunday. Muagututia struggled in attack, hitting .000 on his way to three kills. He also added a block and an ace to his point total. Franciskovic came onto the floor as a serving substitute in the second set and attempted one serve. Chavers did not see the court for Verona. Stephen Boyer led Verona with 17 kills, three blocks and one ace.

Lube Civitanova, the defending CEV Champions League and Italian SuperLega champions, made a statement win over Modena in three sets on November 17. Anderson hit .583 for Modena while putting away 15 kills. He added a block and an ace, but that was not enough. Holt’s only points came from three kills and a .500 attack average. Christenson set Modena to a .481 hitting percentage. While that looks impressive, note that Lube hit .578 for the match. Modena also committed 23 service errors and yielded only three aces. Lube had a much more favorable ratio of eight errors to six aces. While Yoandy Leal struggled with his passing, Jiri Kovar and Fabio Balaso picked it up for Lube. Leal led the team with 15 points.  Amri Ghafour chipped in 11 points from the right side, and Robertlandy Simon contributed nine points from the middle.

Russia: The Super League was on hiatus for the semifinal stage of the Russian Cup. Erik Shoji and Fakel Novy Urengoy finished 2-1 over the weekend with wins over Yenisei Krasnoyark and Gazprom-Yugra Surgut. The team’s only loss came to Zenit St. Petersburg in five sets. That loss put Fakel in second place in the pool and ended its tournament in the semifinal stage.

Poland: Kawika Shoji had an ace and a block for Asseco Resovia Rzeszów in a 3-0 defeat of Trefl Gdansk on November 13. He came off the bench as a substitute in the second and third sets.

David Smith, now back in the starting lineup for ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Kozle, put away five kills to go with three aces in a 3-0 win over Cerrad Czarni Radom on November 17. Smith hit .444 from the middle in the win.

Dustin Watten started at libero for GKS Katowice as it dropped a tight 3-2 decision to Cuprum Lubin on November 16. Watten finished with 55.56 percent of his passes being positive and 22.22 percent being classified as perfect.

Josh Tuaniga set Ślepsk Malow Suwałki to a .284 hitting percentage in an 0-3 defeat by Jastrzębski Węgiel on November 15. He also chipped in a block in the loss. Nicolas Szerszen, the Frenchman from Ohio State, finished with match with 11 kills and a block for Suwałki.

Pro mens notebook 11/20/2019-Micah Ma'a
Micah Ma’a has had an impressive start for Poitiers since arriving a week ago/M. Pinchon Facebook

France: Micah Ma’a and Stade de Poiteven Poitiers split a pair of matches over the past week. Ma’a finished with two aces and three kills in a 3-1 victory over Ajaccio on November 16. He served a team-high 20 times and set Poitiers to a .368 hitting percentage. That match was followed up with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of league-leading Rennes on November 19. He again had five points, but from four kills and an ace. Ma’a set his team to an attack average of .371.

Mitch Stahl scored three points for Chaumont in a 3-0 loss to Montpellier on November 15. His points came all from kills, but were accompanied by four errors for a -.083 hitting percentage. Stahl bounced back to help Chaumont beat Cannes in three sets on November 19. He scored five points on two kills, two blocks and an ace. Stahl did not commit an attack error and hit .400 on the night. Kyle Russell was held to single-digit scoring for the first time in Ligue A this season, finishing with seven points on kills. He committed nine attack errors and left the arena with a minus .087 attack average. Matt West set Cannes to a .109 hitting percentage in the loss.

Earlier in the weekend, Cannes dropped a 3-1 decision to Paris. Russell scored 17 points on 13 kills, a block and a match-high three aces. He posted a .212 hitting percentage in the defeat. West set Cannes to a .376 attack average and also chipped in a kill.

Tourcoing split a pair of matches over the past week. Max Chamberlain was used as a substitute in the second, third and fourth sets of a 3-1 loss to Rennes on November 16. He completed four serves in the match. Chamberlain helped Tourcoing earn a 3-2 win over Nantes Reze on November 19. He was used as a substitute in the second set, and started the final two sets. Chamberlain finished with two aces and one kill in the win.

Tours VB is on a three-match winning streak after sweeping Nice and Arago de Sete on Friday November 15 and November 19 respectively. Price Jarman was used as a substitute against Nice in the second set. He did not see the court against Sete.

James Shaw was not included on the roster for Narbonne, who lost to Nantes Reze in four sets on November 16 and Paris Volley in three sets on November 19.

Germany: Mitch Penning scored seven points in the middle for TV Rottenburg on November 13 in a win over Heitec Volleys Eltmann. He hit an impressive .714 without an error in a five-kill performance to go along with two blocks in the win.

Ben Patch and Jeff Jendryk both had double-digit performances on November 13 in a 3-0 sweep of SVG Lüneburg. Patch produced 11 kills with a hitting percentage of .193 on the evening. Jendryk scored 10 points on seven kills, two blocks and a kill while hitting .500. JT Hatch came in during the first set as a serving substitute. Cody Kessel subbed into the back row to serve and pass in the second set. Leo Durkin came in to serve in the first set for Lüneburg, and Michael Michelau came off the bench in the second set and took one swing without registering a kill. Kyle Ensing did not see any action for Berlin.

Joe Worsley started at setter for VfB Friedrichshafen in a 3-0 win over Helios Grizzlys Giesen on November 13. He earned a kill and an ace while setting Friedrichshafen to a .424 attack average in the sweep. Brendan Schmidt finished with six kills in the middle on three kills and three blocks. David Wieczorek started the last set and earned two kills while hitting .000. Michael Wexter was not on the roster for Giesen.

Greg Petty scored three points off the bench for Volleyball Bisons Bühl in a 3-1 loss to Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching on November 13. He finished with three kills on five attempts, hitting .200 for the match.

Jalen Penrose scored 20 points for WWK Volleys Herrsching against SWD powervolleys Duren on November 13. Penrose hit .423 on his way to 15 kills. He also produced three blocks and two aces in the win.

Berlin extended its winning streak to eight with a sweep of Duren on November 16. Jendryk scored eight points on five kills and three blocks while hitting .400 from the middle. Patch registered eight kills, one block and one ace with a .222 attack average. Kessel came off the bench in the first and third sets, scoring four points on four kills and hitting .800. Hatch and Ensing did not see any action for Berlin.

Michelau had a phenomenal performance for SVG Lüneburg in a three-set win over Netzhoppers KW-Bestensee on November 16. He started at outside hitter and scored 13 points in three sets. Those points included seven kills, three blocks and three aces. He did not commit an error in attack and hit .700 from the left side. He also led his team with 19 serve receptions and posted a match-high 42 percent perfect passes. Durkin did not see the floor for Lüneburg.

Michael Wexter was back on the court for Giesen in a 3-1 victory over United Volleys Frankfurt. He came off the bench in all four sets and scored seven points on six kills and a block. He hit .545 and had no attack errors on the night. David Wieczorek was used as a serving substitute in the second and third sets.

Jalen Penrose earned 15 kills and six aces in four sets last weekend/WWK Volleys Herrsching Facebook

Penrose led Herrsching to another win on November 19 by way of a 3-1 decision over Eltmann. He paced his squad with 22 points on 15 kills, one block and six aces. His kill and ace tallies were both match-highs. Penrose hit .235 from the right side in the win. That win puts Herrsching at 4-3 on the season, level with third-placed Unterhaching. Herrsching is in fourth position due to its sets ratio which is worse than Unterhaching’s.

Penning helped Rottenburg pick up its second win of the season with a sweep of Buhl. He put down three kills, an ace and match-high four blocks. Penning hit .375 from the middle with no attack errors. Petty started for Buhl and scored nine points from the left side on eight kills and a block with a .333 attack average.

Schmidt scored nine points for Friedrichshafen in a tiebreak victory over Unterhaching. His points came on six kills and three blocks with a hitting percentage of .625. Worsley did not start this match, but was used as a substitute in the second, fourth and fifth sets. He completed two serves. Friedrichshafen is now three points back of the league-leaders. These two teams will play for the first time in the Bundesliga on December 14.

Belgium: Knack Roeselare defeated Tectum Achtel in three sets on November 16. Joseph Norman did not see any action for Roeselare.

Czech Republic: Scott Fifer’s Příbram lost to Kladno on November 16 in straight sets. Fifer did not get the start at setter but came off the bench in the first set.

Kevin Gear and Odolena Voda claimed an important win over Dukla Liberec in four sets to draw level on 10 points and a 4-3 record on November 16. Gear had nine points on six kills and three blocks. He hit .667 without committing an error in attack.

Brno faced a tough task in league-leading CEZ Karlovarsko and succumbed in three sets. Matt August scored one point from a block and hit -.333. He started the first two sets in the middle and came off the bench in the third.

Finland: Raison Loimu dropped a match to Akaa-Volley on November 13 in three sets. Blake Leeson scored six points on six kills. His kills came from 14 attempts with no errors for a .462 hitting percentage. Avery Aylsworth passed 44 percent of his 18 service receptions positively and 13 percent perfectly. Loimu followed that up with a five-set loss to Karelian Hurmos on November 17. Aylsworth put in a 55 and 25 percent performance in serve receive, and Leeson scored 13 points. Leeson hit .533 in the loss. Kyle Foley came off the bench in the third set and played the rest of the way for Hurmos. Foley finished the match with a block and an ace.

Josh Ayzenberg and Savo Voley played a second match against Kokkolan Tiikerit in two weeks, and claimed a second victory on November 11. Ayzenberg received 18 serves with 50 percent being rated as positive and 28 percent being perfect in a 3-1 victory. Savo fell to Hurrikaani Loimaa in five sets on November 17. Ayzenberg passed 64 percent of his receptions positively and 30 percent perfectly.

Team Lakkapää had another tough week, falling to VaLePa in straight sets on November 11. Ryan Manoogian led his team in serve receive with 73 percent positive passes and 30 percent perfect. On November 18 it dropped another 3-0 decision to Akaa-Volley. Manoogian registered a 59 and 29 percent passing performance in that defeat.

MEZVA: ACH Volley defeated SIP Sempeter in three sets on November 13. Kyle Dagostino did not see any action for ACH Volley. ACH defeated OK Mladost Zagreb of Croatia on November 17. Dagostino played libero and passed 88 percent of his service receptions positively and 77 percent perfectly.

Netherlands: SAMEN Lycurrgus defeated Talentteam Papendal HS 3-0 on November 17. Colin Mahan was back in the lineup and led Lycurgus with 17 kills. Mitch Perinar scored eight points on seven kills and a block in the victory.

Spain: Nick Amado started in the middle for Unicaja Costa de Almería in a 3-0 decision over Conectabalear CV Manacor. Amado started the first two sets and came off the bench in the third. He did not register any points and hit -.667 in the win.

Matthew Knigge contributed 15 points to Arenal Emevé in a winning effort against CV Melilla on November 16. Knigge hit .533 on his way to 8 kills. He also put up a match-high five blocks and two service aces in the victory.

Switzerland: Matt Yoshimoto set Lindaren Volley Amriswil to a .440 hitting percentage in a 3-2 victory over Lausanne UC on November 16. He also chipped in two kills on four attempts.

On November 10, TSV Jona Volleyball fell to Lindaren Volley Luzern in five sets. Mitch Beal scored 20 points on 16 kills, three aces and a block. He hit an impressive .591 from the right side. Grayson Overman scored six points in the middle on five kills and a block. Overman hit .714 without a hitting error.

Looking Ahead
France: Poitiers vs. Chaumont, November 23 — Both of these teams have been struggling in the early Ligue A season. Poitiers is 3-5, but has been playing better with the introduction of Micah Ma’a in the lineup. Mitch Stahl and Chaumont were finalists last season, but are 4-4 and in fifth place. Though the clubs are seven places apart in the rankings, they are just one match and five points apart.

Italy: Milano vs. Modena, November 24 — Milano is sitting in fourth position with Verona breathing right down its neck. Modena is coming off of an embarrassing defeat to Lube after defeating the defending champions in the SuperCoppa. Matt Anderson is back to playing the traditional outside hitter role in attack and serve receive. Ivan Zaytsev and Nimir Abdel-Aziz are two of the most dynamic opposites in Italy. Milano needs this win to stay in the hunt for a European cup berth, and Modena needs to get back in the mix vying for the top spot in the standings.

Switzerland: TSV Jona Volleyball vs. Chênois Genève Volleyball, November 23 — Mitch Beal is coming off of his most productive performance of the season for Jona. Beal and his club have a chance to jump over Chênois Genève and into the top half of the standings with a win.

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