Blair Lambert reports on USA men playing professional volleyball around the world. Got a note about a player or a commen? Email

Professional men’s volleyball picked back up all over the world this past weekend and that included quite a few USA national-team players.

We saw the return of Jeff Jendryk to Poland, Kyle Russell to Europe, and James Shaw to professional indoor volleyball.  

A rookie setter led his team to a big upset in his first professional match with the help of a mainstay on the national team.

And Germany showed off a new tournament in partnership with Spontent, the channel which streams the German Bundesliga on Twitch.

Poland: David Smith and Erik Shoji started ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle’s title defense with a four-set victory over Indykpol AZS Olsztyn on Saturday. Smith scored 12 points in the middle on seven kills, three blocks and an ace. He also posted a .583 hitting percentage. Shoji passed 29 percent of his service receptions positively and 12 percent perfectly. Josh Tuaniga set Olsztyn to a .260 attack efficiency and added a kill. Taylor Averill finished the match with three kills, two blocks, and a .750 hitting percentage in three sets of action.

Asseco Resovia Rzeszów opened with a sweep of Projekt Warsawa. TJ DeFalco had a slow night in attack but led the team with three blocks. DeFalco added four kills while hitting .182.

Jeff Jendryk hit .667 in his first match in Poland since his season at Resovia in 2020-2021, but LUK Lublin fell to Cerrad Czarni Radom in five sets. Jendryk produced seven kills and three blocks. Dustin Watten led the team with 75 percent positive and 33 percent perfect receptions.

Jake Hanes and newly-promoted BBST Bielsko-Biala started the PlusLiga season on Saturday with a loss toCuprum Lubin. The opposite who helped the club win promotion to the PlusLiga from the Tauron 1.Liga (Poland’s second division) led the team with 18 points. He hit .297 on his way to a team-high 15 kills. Hanes also had two aces and a block.

Micah Ma’a celebrates his Halkbank Ankara team’s victory this past weekend/ photo

Turkey: Dan McDonnell contributed five kills and a block for Arkas Spor in 3-2 victory over Altkema to open up the season. His kills came from eight attempts and he hit .500.

Micah Ma’a got off to a great start with a new club, Halkbank Ankara and his team hit .612 in a sweep of Develi Bld. It is safe to say that Ma’a found his new favorite target in Nimir Abdel Aziz, the Dutch opposite who played with Modena last season. Nimir led with 21 kills, hit .833, and had three aces.

France: Quinn Isaacson started his pro career on a high note. He and Saint-Nazaire defeated Montpellier in four sets last Friday to open up the Ligue A season. Montpellier were the champions of France last year and beat Chaumont in the Super Cup a week prior. Isaacson set his team to a .331 hitting percentage while scoring from a block and a kill. Kyle Ensing, who had a spectacular Volleyball Nations League and World Championships summer for the USA, made his return to Europe after playing two seasons in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Ensing led the match with 21 points on 18 kills, a block, and two aces while hitting .313. The opposite who played at Long Beach State shouldered most of the offensive load for his team, taking 40 percent of attack attempts.

After scoring 12 points in a four-set defeat to Montpellier in the Super Cup last weekend, Pat Gasman followed it up with 11 for Chaumont in a sweep of Plessis-Robinson in the opening round of Ligue A. He led the match with three blocks and contributed seven kills in 11 attempts with no errors and hit .636. Michael Marshman finished the match with three points on three kills and a .100 hitting percentage in the win. Tyler Mitchem started the third set for Plessis-Robinson and scored a point from a kill on two attempts.

Chaumont picked up two American middle blockers in Pat Gasman and Michael Marshman. Gasman played his rookie season in Brazil with Funvic Natal. Marshman comes to Chaumont after two seasons in Cambrai, where he helped the club earn promotion to Ligue A in 2019-2020.

Kyle Russell, back in France with Arago de Sète after two seasons in Korea, produced match-highs in kills (19) and aces (4) in a five-set defeat to Tourcoing. Russell hit .231 and also added two blocks.

Cody Kessel, Berlin Recycling Volleys after winning the inaugural Bounce House Cup@justus.fotos

Germany: Instead of having a traditional German Super Cup with the winner of last year’s Bundesliga facing the winner of the German Cup, the first  Bounce House Cup took place in Hildesheim last weekend. 

All eight teams in Germany’s top flight were put into a bracket, and every team played three matches over the three days. As was to be expected, Cody Kessel and the Berlin Recycling Volleys faced VfB Friedrichshafen in the final. Many of the matches did not have stat sheets available at the time of this writing.

Matt West, who is on a short-term contract with Helios Grizzlys Giesen, returned to where he started his professional career. Giesen went 1-2 on the weekend and finished seventh place after beating TSV Haching Munich on Sunday.

James Shaw, after a stint on the beach, is back playing indoor volleyball. He set WWK Volleys Herrsching to 1-2 record. After dropping a five-set decision to SVG Lüneburg to open, his club beat Munich and lost another five-set match to SWD powervolleys Duren in the fifth-place match.

SVG Lüneburg also went 1-2, losing to Berlin in the semifinals and Netzhoppers KW-Bestensee in the third-place match. Gage Worsley and Jordan Ewert played in all three matches while the club used varied lineups throughout the weekend. Ewert led the team in scoring in the opening match.

The Netzhoppers had a successful run to third place with its only loss coming at the hands of VfB Friedrischfaen. Max Chamberlain and Randy Deweese both started the tournament for the club and had impressive performances ahead of the start of the Bundesliga. Resever Kyler Presho got into the third-place match.

Berlin did not drop a set on its way to the inaugural Bounce House Cup crown. Angel Trinidad proved to be an adequate replacement for Sergey Grankin. Their outside hitters remained unchanged for the most part. Cody Kessel started the first match for Berlin, leading the way with 11 points. He was used as a substitute in the remaining matches. Marek Sotola was able to replace Ben Patch without missing much of a beat (though he saw considerable action last year). Though the club lost Danani at libero, Satoshi Tsuiki’s addition to the lineup gives them arguably the best libero in the Bundesliga.

Russia: The Pari Super League (the top flight in Russia) includes two American players on Russian rosters, but neither were in action during the first round. Micah Christenson is currently in Russia with Zenit Kazan, and he took place in the team’s presentation a week ago but did not play in Kazan’s first victory Sunday. Matt Anderson is signed with Zenit St. Petersburg, but is still in the U.S. with his family.

Italy: Gabi Garcia, the Puerto Rican player who is now playing for the USA, got the start at opposite for Lube Civitanova in a sweep of Gionella Prisma Taranto on Saturday. With an injury to Marlon Yant, Ivan Zaytsev played outside hitter and Garcia filled the hole created on the right side and scored nine points on eight kills and block with a .278 hitting percentage. Long Beach State national player of the year Alex Nikolov made his professional debut, coming off the bench to serve in the first two sets and finished with two aces and a block.

Spain: Matt Knigge continues to put up big scoring numbers in the middle. In his third season with CV Guagas, Knigge opened the season with a 16-point performance in a four-set victory over Rio Duero Soria. The second-leading scorer for Guagas finished on 15 kills and a block and hit .650.

Portugal: In the Super Cup between Fonete de Bastardo and SL Benfica, Ryan Manoogian and Dennis Del Valle picked up their first hardware of the season in a four-set win over Benfica. Del Valle started at libero, passing 53 percent positive and 24 percent perfect. Manoogian was used in the second set though did not receive any serves.

Finland: Akaa Volley 3, Kyky-Betset 0: Greg Petty (Akaa) 11 kills (.611), 1 block, 1 ace.
VaLePa 3, Savo Volley 1: Michael Michelau (Savo) 15 kills (.583) 1 block, 1 ace.
Akaa Volley 3, VaLePa 2: Petty (Akaa) 18 kills (.471), 3 aces, 1 block
Hurrikaani Loimaa 2, Savo Volley 3: Michalau (Savo) 16 kills (.444), 2 blocks, 2 aces.
Vantaa Ducks 2, Akaa Volley 3: Petty (Akaa) 15 kills (.458), 1 ace

Denmark: Nordenskov UIF 3, Hvidovre VK 0: Max Rosenfeld (Nordenskov) 2 kills (.000) 4 blocks, 1 ace; Patrick Ross (Nordenskov) 12 kills (.750), 2 blocks, 3 aces; Seamus McDonagh (Hvidovre) set team to .060 hitting percentage.
Marienlyst-Fortuna Volley 3, VK Vestsjælland 0: Daniel Matheney (VK Vestsjælland) 6 kills (-.130), 1 block, 1 ace.

Sweden:  Vingåkers 3, Habo 1: Relyea Speller (Vingåkers) 20 kills (.425).
Floby VK 3, Sollentuna 0: Ian Parrish (Floby) 4 kills (.273), 4 blocks, 1 ace

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