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International USA men’s report: Big week for Garcia, Christenson, Aaron Russell

International USA player Gabi Garcia led Padova to its second-straight victory
International USA men’s player Gabi Garcia led Padova to its second straight victory/

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

All of the pools of the group stage of the CEV Champions League have been set, but Tim McIntosh and hypo Tirol Innsburck of Austria were eliminated after going 2-1 in Pool V. Hypo Tirol was looking to reach the group stage for the first time since the preliminary rounds were added in 2017.

Hypo Tirol beat Partizan Beograd, lost to CV Guagas and beat Budva as McIntosh passed 40 percent positive. His team plays Volley Hassrode Leuven of Belgium in the CEV Cup when that tournament resumes on November 21.


Gabi Garcia turned in his best performance of the season so far for Pallavolo Padova in a five-set win over Cisterna Volley.. The opposite who spent the last two seasons with Lube Civitanova hit .552 on his way to 24 kills and three aces. All three of those figures were match-highs.

Jeff Jendryk led Gioella Prisma Taranto in scoring, but unfortunately the middle blocker had only three kills, two blocks and an ace as Vero Volley Monza swept. Kyle Russell started at opposite but had just three kills while hitting -.091 before being replaced in the second set. Taranto is the only team left in the SuperLega that has not won.

Rana Verona defeated Farmitalian Catania, the second match Francesco Sani started at outside hitter. The rookie from UC Irvine finished with 11 kills and an ace. Rok Mozic had 30 points for Verona.


TJ Defalco had 11 kills, two blocks, and three aces for Asseco Resovia Rzeszów in a loss to Jastrzębski Węgiel and it was the first match that DeFalco was in the lineup alongside Stephen Boyer, an Olympic gold medalist for France. Boyer led Resovia with 20 points.

Jake Hanes and Cuprum Lubin had a tough loss to Projekt Warsaw. Hanes hit an astounding .636 in the first two sets but was limping and had to leave the match after getting seven kills and an ace.

DeFalco and Resovia pulled off an impressive 32-30, 25-17, 25-16 win against ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle, but reports said that DeFalco injured his thumb and would not be used. He played just a bit in the first set, earning a kill on two attempts.

ZAKSA was dealing with injury woes of its own. Dave Smith and Bartosz Bednorz were on the bench with minor ailments. Both played in the first set, Smith contributing a kill. Łukasz Kaczmarek was moved to play outside hitter with Bednorz not available. Daniel Chitigoi, the backup opposite, was injured, so Andreas Takvam was moved from the middle to the right side. Both setters, Marcin Janusz and Przemysław Stępień, were injured. The club signed Radislow Gil earlier in the week to handle the setting duties. Erik Shoji was one of the few starters playing in his normal position and finished with 46 percent positive and eight percent perfect passes.


Micah Christenson led Zenit Kazan past Zenit Saint Petersburg as Kazan hit .305. Christenson had an ace and a block.

Zenit Kazan advanced to the semifinals of the Russian Cup by beating Yenisei Krasnoyarsk. Kazan did not use Dmitry Volkov or Maxim Mikhailov, but Christenson still set the team to a .330 attack efficiency and he had a kill and a block.


Aaron Russell and the JT Thunders Hiroshima beat Voreas Hokkaido twice. Russell had 16 kills, three blocks and three aces in a a sweep and then had 16 more kills and an ace in a 32-30, 25-22, 25-20 victory that left his team 7-1.


Halkbank Ankara had to make up a match against Arkas Spor from the second week of the season since Arkas had a match in the CEV Cup and Micah Ma’a set Halkbank to a .443 attack efficiency in a 25-22, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22 victory. Gyorgy Grozer, fresh off of carrying Germany through Olympic qualification, contributed 22 points for Arkas.

Ma’a got 24 points from Nimir Abdel-Aziz’s  and 20 from Gord Perrin of Canada against Develi Bld. Earvin N’Gapeth was given the night off, but he wasn’t needed in a 25-17, 25-15, 25-27, 25-22 win for Halkbank. Ma’a’s team hit .448 and he had a kill and two blocks.


Chaumont dropped its first match of the season to undefeated Nantes Rezé as Michael Marshman had 11 kills, three blocks and an ace in the 21-25, 25-22, 19-25, 25-23, 17-15 loss. Pat Gasman started at the other middle and had a kill and two aces. After hitting -.143, Gasman was replaced by Dan McDonnell to start the third set. McDonnell had five kills and two blocks. Joe Worsley set Chaumont to a .343 attack efficiency in addition to having two kills and a block.

Narbonne remained winless after getting swept by Monpellier. Kyle Dagostino posted a 47 percent positive and 13 percent perfect passing performance with five errors in reception.

Kyle Ensing matched a team-high total of 14 points for Saint Nazaire in a four-set win over Paris. Ensing had 13 kills and a block. Jordan Ewert added 11 kills and a block. Daniel Wetter of Paris had four kills and two blocks and Colton Cowell played in the third and fourth sets, getting a kill on one attempt.

Chaumont then beat perennial French power Tours, hitting .362 as Worsley had three kills and a block. Marshman hit .500 with five kills. McDonnell had three kills and two blocks, hitting .600

Paris ended its two-match losing streak with a five-set win over Arago  de Sète. Wetter had a kill and an ace.

Saint Nazaire fell to 2-3 when it was swept by Plessis-Robinson. Ensing finished with seven kills and a block. Ewert scored on five kills and an ace but hit .000. Quinn Isaacson was used as a serving substitute in each set.

Dagostino passed 75 percent positively and 33 percent perfectly with no errors against league-leading Tourcoing, but Narbone was swept.


The Berlin Recycling Volleys beat WWK Volleys Herrsching and Cody Kessel was used as a sub for Berlin in every set but the fourth of the 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 17-25, 15-12 victory. He had two kills and a block. Ryan Manoogian played as a libero for Herrsching in the first set. He passed 25 percent positively and 25 percent perfectly.

FT 1844 Freiburg beat TSV Haching Munich in four as Ian Parrish hit .857 from the middle with no attack errors. He finished with six kills and two aces. Munich outside Austin Matautia had seven kills and an ace but hit .091.

Matt Knigge had nine kills and four blocks for SVG Lüneburg in a 25-22, 22-25, 31-33, 25-17, 19-17 marathon victory over VfB Friedrichshafen. Blake Leeson had seven kills and two blocks while hitting .636. Gage Worsley passed 47 percent positively and 24 percent perfectly. Matt Slivinsky came off the bench in the third set and finished the match with seven kills, an ace, and hit .375.

JT Hatch came off the bench for Helios Grizzlys Giesen in the second set and finished the sweep of Netzhoppers K.W. Bestensee, getting two kills and an ace.

Berlin made quick work of Friedrichshafen and Kessel came off the bench in each set and contributed a kill on his only attempt.

Giesen picked up a 25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 21-25, 15-2 win over Herrsching on November 11. Hatch was used as a substitute in the first four sets and completed two serves. Manoogian did not feature in the match for Herrsching.

Parish had five kills in five attempts for Freiburg in a sweep of ASV Dachau. Simon Gallas, fa German who played at USC, scored 13 points for Dachau.

Leeson and Knigge combined for 17 points in the middle for Lüneburg, which swept VC Bitterfeld-Wolfen. Leeson hit .727 with eight kills and a block. Knigge added five kills and a match-high three blocks. Worsley passed 58 percent positively and 32 percent perfectly.

Munich was just two points away from its first victory but lost 18-25, 25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 18-16 loss to Baden Volleys SSC Karlsruheon. Matautia led with four aces and had three kills and a block.


There were a few weeks between the Argentinian Supercup and the opening of the league season. Brandon Rattray and UPCN won twice in the opening week. Rattray had 20 kill, two blocks and two aces in a sweep of Club Social Deportivo Defensores de Banfield. He followed with 20 kills as UPCN defeated Club Atlético San Lorenzo in five.


Austin Wilmot started at middle blocker for Itambé Minas in its opening-match sweep of Joinville Volei and had two kills.


Chase Direito got the start at middle blocker for VaLePa in a 28-26, 25-20, 25-18 win over TUTO volley and had two kills and two blocks.

Akaa-Volley beat Hurrikaani-Loimaa and Greg Petty had 19 kills and an ace in the loss and teammate Troy Gooch, passed 57 percent positively and 43 percent perfectly.

Michael Michelau scored 15 points on 11 kills and four blocks for Savo Volley, but his team still dropped a 22-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-17, 15-13 decision to Karelian Hurmos on November 11.

Colin Lovejoy hit .600 in the middle for Kyky-Betset in a 22-25, 18-25, 25-22, 27-25, 15-12 win against Akaa-Volley and had seven kills and a block.

Raison Loimu earned a 24-26, 20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 15-10 victory against VaLePa and Felix Egharevba had 13 kills and two blocks, hitting .667.

Kyky-Betset beat Kokkolan Tilkerit in five and Lovejoy hit .500 on his way to three kills, an ace and a block.

Czech Republic

Tommy Carmody hit .000 and only put away one kill in CEZ Karlovarsko’s 25-21, 25-19, 25-11 win over České Budějovice, but he also led with three blocks and had two aces.  Spencer Olivier came off the bench in the third set and did not score.


Jaylen Jasper led Spartak Subotica with 17 kills, two blocks and an ace in a four-set win over Borac-Starcevo.


Chênois Genève remained unbeaten with a 22-25, 25-22, 25-27, 25-18, 15-11 win over Biogas Volley Näfels as Dennis Del Valle passed 54 percent of his receptions positively and 31 percent perfectly. James Norris had eight kills, one block, and an ace.