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International men: Christenson, Zenit Kazan among many early season cup winners

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

The beginning of the professional season in most countries is accompanied by various Supercup matches that traditionally pair the winners of the league from the previous season against champions of that country’s cup competition from last year. 

Micah Christenson and Zenit Kazan won the Russian Supercup a week ago against Dynamo Moscow. This past week saw three major Supercup competitions take place. Sir Safety Perugia won the four-team Italian SuperCoppa on November 1 when it defeated Lube Civitanova in five sets. Italy takes the winners of the league and cup competitions as well as the next top two teams from the league the year before to have semifinals and a final to determine its SuperCoppa champion. There were two other Supercup matches featuring American players on November 1 and 3 in Turkey and Poland, respectively.

Matt Anderson and Ziraat Bankasi played Micah Ma’a and Halkbank Ankara for the second time this season. Halkbank claimed a five-set victory on the first day of the Turkish season, but Anderson’s 18 points helped Ziraat earn the 22-25, 31-29, 25-19, 25-23 victory and the club’s first trophy of the season. Anderson had 14 kills and four blocks with a .448 attack efficiency. Ma’a set Halkbank to a .336 hitting percentage and had a block and an ace.

The Polish Supercup pitted two familiar foes against each other, ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle faced Jastrzębski Węgiel in a a rematch of last year’s Champions League final, the last three PlusLiga finals, the last two Supercup matches, and the previous four Polish Cup finals.

Erik Shoji competed for another trophy at ZAKSA last week/plusliga/p photol

After dropping the first two sets, ZAKSA rallied for a 20-25, 24-26, 31-29, 25-19, 15-12 victory. Dave Smith hit .400 and had five kills. Erik Shoji passed 59 percent positively and 29 percent perfectly. Bartosz Bednorz was the MVP with 25 points. Tomasz Fornal matched him with 25 points for Jastrzębski Węgiel. This is ZAKSA’s third Supercup title.

CEV Cup: Kyle Dagostino and Narbonne were eliminate when they dropped the return leg to Nantes Reze 25-17, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23. Dagostino posted a 44 and 31 percent passing performance.

CEV Challenge Cup: Jaylen Jasper played the first two sets for Spartak Subotica of Serbia in its 25-19, 25-20, 25-22 win over Forde VBK. The rookie from Pepperdine led his team with 12 kills and an ace and a .526 hitting percentage. Spartak advanced to the next round and will face Fonte Bastardo of Portugal.


Jake Hanes had eight kills, two blocks and two aces for Cuprum Lubin in a 25-20, 25-15, 26-24 defeat to undefeated Trefl Gdańsk.

Josh Tuaniga started at setter for Indykpol AZS Olsztyn, but was subbed out in the third set. Olsztyn pulled out a 16-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-17, 17-15 victory against PSG Stal Nysa. Tuaniga set his team to a .314 hitting percentage in the two sets he completed.

After winning the Supercup, ZAKSA fielded a team without its starting setter, opposite and outside hitter. The result was a 24-26, 25-22, 25-23, 25-21 defeat to newly promoted Exact Systems Hemarpol Częstochowa. Smith scored on four kills, two blocks and two aces. Shoji passed 38 percent positively and 19 percent perfectly.

Micah Christenson keeps the ball on his side of the net with a one-handed set for Zenit Kazan/ photo


Micah Christenson led Zenit Kazan to a 23-25, 25-20, 25-12, 25-20 win over Yenisei Krasnoyarsk in the quarterfinals of the Russian Cup. Christenson set Kazan to a .405 hitting percentage while scoring on three kills and three blocks. The teams play the return leg on November 11.


The two teams featuring American players, Gioella Prisma Taranto and Pallavolo Padova, squared off on November 5 with both clubs trying to pick up their first win. Padova had yet to win a set and Taranto narrowly lost to Trentino, the defending champions, in a tiebreak last weekend. Padova, powered by Italian Davide Gardini, the BYU standout,  came back from a three-point deficit in the fifth set to win  25-22, 15-25, 20-25, 25-18, 18-16.

Gardini had 12 kills and four blocks. Gabi Garcia finished with six kills but hit minus .095 to go with three blocks, including on Kyle Russell on match point. Russell had seven kills, two blocks and an ace with a .050 attack efficiency for Taranto. Teammate Jeff Jendryk posted nine kills and two blockst.


Aaron Russell and Thomas Jaeschke and their respective teams went 2-0. Russell’s JT Thunders Hiroshima beat the Tokyo Great Bears. Russell had 18 kills, four aces and two blocks in a 25-20, 18-25, 24-26, 25-20, 15-19 victory. The next day he had 20 kills and an ace in a 25-17, 27-25, 24-26, 25-23 victory

Jaeschke had seven blocks, an ace and 11 kills for the Panasonic Panthers in a 30-28, 25-17, 25-14 victory over VC Nagano. The next day he had 15 kills and a block in a 25-19, 26-24, 25-20 sweep.


Micah Ma’a set Halkbank Ankara to a .462 attack efficiency in a 25-18, 25-18, 32-30 decision over Rams Global Cizre Bld. Ma’a had three aces and two kills. Earvin N’Gapeth led Halkbank with 16 points.

Ziraat Bankasi followed up its Supercup victory with a 25-15, 25-23, 25-16 win at Bursa Metropolitan as Anderson hit .389 on his way to 10 kills and an ace.


Daniel Wetter and Paris lost to Toulouse as Wetter had six kills, three blocks and a .600 hitting percentage. Colton Cowell was used as a substitute in the third set and passed 50 percent positively and 50 percent perfect.

Chaumont remained undefeated with a four-set win over Poitiers. Joe Worsley set Chaumont to a .414 attack efficiency and had a kill. Dan McDonnell had seven kills and two blocks. He hit .636 without an error. Pat Gasman hit minus .125 but led the match with four blocks and had a kill and an ace. Michael Marshman subbed in the fourth set but did not score.

Narbonne is still the only winless team in Ligue A after a 23-25, 25-16, 25-21, 20-25, 16-14 loss to saint-Jean d’Illac. Kyle Dagostino passed 57 percent positively and 30 percent perfectly.

Quinn Isaacson was back for Saint Nazaire breaking his hand before the season started. He came off the bench in the fourth set of a 25-14, 22-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-8 defeat to Nantes Reze. Kyle Ensing finished with 14 kills and an ace for Saint Nazaire. Teammate Jordan Ewert contributed 11 kills, hitting .357.


There was a full lineup of Bundesliga fixtures in the middle of the week and the German Cup round of 16 over the weekend.

Middle Ian Parrish had a block in the middle for FT 1844 Freiburg in a 25-22, 25-18, 25-22 loss to VC Bitterfeld-Wolfen.

Cody Kessel came off the bench in the third set for the Berlin Recycling Volleys in a 25-10, 25-20, 25-15 dismantling of Netzhoppers K.W. Bestensee with a kill on three attempts with two errors.

Austin Matautia led TSV Haching Munich with 13 kills and a .367 hitting percentage in a 25-20, 25-14, 25-21 defeat to ASV Dachau and led his team with 79 percent positive and 43 percent perfect passes. Simon Gallas, a German who played at USC, had 12 kills and a block for Dachau.

Ryan Manoogian’s WWK Volleys Herrsching club swept SVG Lüneburg  as Matt Knigge finished with five kills and a block while Blake Leeson added three kills and two blocks. Gage Worsley passed 40 percent positively and 10 percent perfectly. Matt Slivinski came off the bench in the second set for Lüneburg, but did not score.

JT Hatch was used as a passing substitute in the third, fourth, and fifth sets for Helios Grizzlys Giesen in a 25-22, 20-25, 25-22, 18-25, 16-14 loss to SWD powervolleys Düren. He did not score but passed 50 percent of his receptions positively.

Knigge and Leeson were SVG Lüneburg’s leading scorers in a 25-21, 25-17, 25-15 victory over Baden Volleys SSC Karlsruhe in the German Cup. Knigge led with six kills, four blocks and two aces. Leeson added seven kills, two aces and a block. Slivinsky started the third set, finishing with five kills on seven attempts with a .571 attack efficiency. Worsley passed 31 percent positively and 19 percent perfectly.

In an unfortunate drawing of lots, Berlin and VfB Friedrichshafen were paired in the German Cup round of 16. One of these two clubs has won the cup nine of the last 10 years (and the Bundesliga title every year since 1998). In what could have easily been the final, Berlin defeated Friedrichshafen 25-20-22-25, 26-28, 25-19, 15-13. Kessel was used as a substitute in the final three sets and had a kill in his only swing.

Hatch got the start for Giesen in the German Cup match against Matautia and Munich. He finished with 10 kills and an ace, hitting .667 without an attack error. Matautia hit .500 on his way to four kills and a block as Giesen won 25-15, 25-11, 25-16.

Frieburg defeated Kriftel 25-18, 25-21, 25-20 in the German Cup. No stats were available.


Savo Volley fell to TUTO Volley in four sets. Savo’s Michael Michelau had 12 kills and a block.

Troy Gooch continues to be the top-performing libero in the Finnish Mestaruusliigafor Hurrikaani-Loimaa. In a sweep of Kyky-Betset hee passed 89 percent positively and 56 percent perfectly with no errors in reception. Greg Petty had nine kills and two blocks with a .368 hitting percentage. Colin Lovejoy put away three kills and two blocks in the middle for Kyky-Betset.


A.O. Kalamata 80 earned its first win in any competition this season with a 29-27, 26-24, 25-22 decision over AOP Kifisias. Matt West set Kalamata to a .429 hitting percentage and had a kill. Ryan Coenen had 16 kills, hitting .452, and passed 52 percent positively.

Czech Republic

Grant Marocchi and Patrick Ross both scored 11 points each for 

Brno had a four-set win over Benátky N.J.  and Grant Marocchi finished with seven kills, three blocks and an ace and Patrick Ross posted nine kills, one block and an ace.

Tommy Carmody had four kills and three blocks for CEZ Karlovarsko in a 24-26, 25-16, 25-19, 25-23 loss to Kladno. Spencer Olivier came off the bench in the second set and finished with four kills and two blocks.

Jordan Kerkvliet was used as a serving sub in the second set for Odolena Voda in a 21-25, 25-21, 27-25, 20-25, 15-8 win against Dukla Liberec but didn’t score.


Hypo Tirol started strong but was taken to the brink of defeat by Union Raiffeisen Waldviertel. Tim McIntosh passed 42 percent positively and 33 percent perfect with five reception errors in a 25-14, 25-18, 21-25, 18-25, 15-12 win.


Jasper did not start for Spartak Subotica, but was used as a substitute in the first two sets before starting the third and fourth. He scored on eight kills and a block in a four-et loss to Radnicki.


Chênois Genève remained unbeaten with a four-set win over Volley Schönenwerd. Dennis Del Valle passed 85 percent of his receptions positively. James Norris was used as a substitute in the first two sets and did not score.