Editor’s note: Blair Lambert covers international men’s volleyball for VolleyballMag.com, focusing on Americans playing abroad. He will have updates throughout the 2022-23 professional season. Got a note about a player or a comment? Email blairlambert2@gmail.com

A number of USA players kicked off play in two European cup competitions, the CEV Cup and the CEV Challenge Cup and it was a very successful week for those involved. 

There is a new leader atop France’s top flight with an American setter at the helm, Micah Christenson had a chance to win his first trophy of the year in Russia, and Micah Ma’a past his first real test of the season with another one right around the corner.

CEV Cup: Europe’s second-tier cup competition kicked off with SVG Lüneburg going to Montenegro and earning a sweep in the first leg over Budva. Gage Worsley passed 63 percent of his receptions positively and 50 percent perfectly. Jordan Ewert scored 11 points on 10 kills and a block with a .278 attack average. Ewert also passed a match-high 21 serves with an impressive 71 percent and 52 percent performance. Colton Cowell started the first two sets and finished with seven kills while hitting .400. Joe Worsley set his team to a .369 attack efficiency while adding three kills, two blocks and an ace. The two teams will play the return leg in Germany on Wednesday.

CEV Challenge Cup: CV Guagas opened with a 3-1 win over Deyva Volley Burgas on October 12. Matt Knigge led Guagas in scoring with 20 points from the middle on 16 kills and four blocks with a .682 hitting percentage. Brandon Rattray made his first official appearance with Guagas when he started the second set. He had 13 kills and four blocks while hitting .269.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv played both legs of its match with Luboteni Ferizaj of Kosovo in Israel last week. No stats were available, but the Israeli champions defeated Luboteni in three sets on October 11. They played the next day and Maccabi took the first set 25-2. Sam Burgi entered after the first set and had seven kills and hit .200 hitting.

Poland: David Smith and Erik Shoji bounced back with ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle to get a sweep over BBTS Bielsko-Biała on October 13. Smith had eight kills with no errors, hit .800, and had a block and an ace. Shoji posted a 50 percent positive and 32 percent perfect passing performance. Jake Hanes had13 kills, a block and hit .200 for the losing side.

Taylor Averill put in an MVP performance for Indykpol AZS Olsztyn last weekend/siatkarskaliga,pl photo

In another match that featured Americans on both teams, Indykpol AZS Olsztyn prevailed over LUK Lubin in four sets. Taylor Averill hit .778 on his way to eight kills and had an ace and a match-high six blocks. Josh Tuaniga set Olsztyn to a .423 hitting percentage. On the other side, Jeff Jendryk had five kills, two aces, and a block while hitting .400. Dustin Watten passed 70 percent positively and 30 percent perfectly. Nicolas Szerszen led Lublin with 15 points on 14 kills and a block.

Asseco Resovia Rzeszów is now in first place after a sweep of Cuprum Lubin on October 15. TJ DeFalco did not start, but came off the bench in the first and second sets. He finished with one kill on one attempt. Not only is Resovia 4-0 with the full 12 points, it has only dropped one set so far this season.

Russia: Dynamo Moscow, winners of the last two Russian Super League titles, defeated Zenit Kazan, winners of the Russian Cup last year, in the Russian Super Cup on October 15. Christenson set Kazan to .299 attack efficiency and contributed four points from a kill and three blocks. Tsvetan Sokolov’s 28 points led Moscow to its second-consecutive and fourth total Super Cup.

Italy: With Marlon Yant back healthy, Ivan Zaytsev moved back to the opposite position for Lube Civitanova. As a result Gabi Garcia did not see any action in Lube’s sweep of Valsa Group Modena. Alex Nikolov came off the bench in each set as a serving substitute, finishing with one ace and one error in four attempts.

Türkiye: Halkbank Ankara staved off Galatasaray in five sets on October 15 to remain in first place. Micah Ma’a scored on an ace and four kills while setting Halkbank to a .360 hitting percentage. Nimir Abdel-Aziz remained the top scorer in the league at 6.93 points per set after scoring 38 in the match.

Dan McDonnell and Arkas Spor moved up into second position in the standings on October 14 after a sweep of Hatay Buyuksehir Bld. McDonnell scored 11 points in the middle on seven kills, three blocks, and an ace.

Halkbank will have its second match against the second-ranked team in the standings in consecutive weeks when it plays Arkas on October 21.

Quinn Isaacson led Saint Nazaire to first place and brought home an MVP award/ Instagram, snvba_officiel

France: Saint Nazaire moved to the top of the French Ligue A standings after a home sweep over Arago de Sète on October 15. Quinn Isaacson set Saint Nazaire to a .409 hitting percentage in the win. Kyle Ensing finished with 12 kills and a block and hit .417. Kyle Russell was the only Arago de Sète player to achieve double-digit scoring. He put down 13 kills with an ace while hitting .241.

Pat Gasman and Chaumont dropped their first match of the Ligue A season in a five-set decision to undefeated Tourcoing on October 15. Gasman posted the second-highest scoring total for Chaumont, impressive for a middle blocker. His 19 points came by way of 14 kills, four blocks and an ace. Mike Marshman came off the bench in the fourth set and finished the match. He scored three points on three kills with a .600 hitting percentage. All of Tourcoing’s wins have come in five sets so far, so its 3-0 record still puts the club in fourth position.

Tyler Mitchem started the last set for Plessis-Robinson in a 3-0 defeat to Narbonne. The rookie from Lewis finished with two kills and an ace. He led his team with nine serves per set.

Germany: Matt West led Helios Grizzlys Giesen to another win on October 15, after setting his club to a .397 attack efficiency. West also added a kill, a block, and an ace to the stat sheet in a sweep of TSV Haching Munich.

SWD powervolleys Duren defeated the Netzhoppers on October 15. Max Chamberlain scored six points in the middle on five kills and an ace while hitting .500. Randy Deweese hit minus .052 in the defeat. He finished with six kills and a block.

James Shaw set WWK Volleys Herrsching to a win and three points in the standings with a 3-1 win over VCO Berlin. Shaw set the club to a .309 hitting percentage and scored five points on four kills and a block. Former Hawaii Rainbow Warrior Stijn van Tilburg led Herrsching with 16 points.

Cody Kessell was used as a substitute for the Berlin Recycling Volleys in a 3-1 win over VfB Friedrichshafen on October 16. Kessell saw action in the first, second, and fourth sets though he did not score any points.

Matt Knigge led his team with 20 points in a CEV Challenge Cup match/cev.eu photo

Spain: CV Guagas finished up its impressive week with a sweep of Club Voley Palma on October 15 as Matt Knigge scored 11 points on six kills, hitting .500, to go with three blocks and an ace. Brandon Rattray made his first start for Guagas and scored 17 points for the second time last week. Rattray finished with 13 kills, two blocks, and two aces and hit .423 from the right side.

Also: Matt Slivinski is second in the Baltic League in scoring (5.07 points per set) and first in serving (.6 aces per set) for Barrus Võru VK. He scored 20 points on 17 kills and three blocks in a 3-1 defeat to RTU/Robežsardze/Jūrmala on October 15. Slivinski hit .146 on 41 attempts. Garret Zolg started the first two sets at the setter position and set the team to a .184 hitting percentage in those two sets …

In Finland, Greg Petty led with match with 19 points (16 kills, 2 blocks, 1 ace, .480) as Akaa Volley defeated Michael Michelau (11 kills, 2 blocks, .207) andSavo Volley in four sets … In the Netherlands, Ryan Coenen scored 13 (10 kills, 3 blocks) as Lycurgus fell to Orion in five sets … In Denmark, Daniel Matheny scored 10 (7 kills, 2 blocks, 1 ace, .250) for VK Vestsjælland in a 3-1 win over Nordenskov UIF with Patrick Ross (11 kills, 2 blocks, 1 ace, .375) and Max Rosenfeld (7 kills, 1 block, 1 ace, .176); Seamus McDonagh set Hvidovre Vk to a .305 hitting percentage while contributing 7 points (3 kills, 3 aces, 1 block) in a 3-2 defeat to ASV Elite.

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