International men: Champions League recaps, playoffs analysis

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

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This edition of the notebook includes recaps of Americans competing in Russia, Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland, Greece and Norway. Poland, Russia and Germany both had matches in the middle of the week and this past weekend. The Coppa Italia finished up with its semifinals and finals.

Champions League Pool A: Zenit Kazan remained perfect with a 3-1 win over United Volleys Frankfurt. Matt Anderson started the first two sets and came off of the bench in the third. He scored eight points on six kills, one block, and one ace. His kills were accompanied by five errors and he hit .067. Anderson played at opposite as Maxim Mikhailov was not in the lineup. Earvin N’Gapeth finished the match with 19 points on 18 kills and a block. On the other side of the net, Tanner Syftestad came off the bench in the first set and played the rest of the match for United Volleys. He scored 12 on eight kills and a match-high four aces with a .333 attack average.

Sam Holt started at outside hitter and scored seven points in Knack Roeselare’s 3-1 defeat to Halkbank Ankara. Holt contributed seven points from five kills and two aces with a .250 hitting percentage. He did not start the fourth set but came off the bench.

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Playoff Scenarios: Zenit Kazan has qualified for the quarterfinals. United Volleys Frankfurt and Knack Roeselare have effectively been eliminated from the competition with one match left in the group stage. Halkbank Ankara is sitting in second place, but will not qualify for the next round as it stands. It needs to gain three points in its last match against Zenit Kazan, and hope that ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle or Dynamo Moscow drop a point or lose. Ankara could surpass Chaumont 52 VB if it earns a full three points and Chaumont loses its last match against ACH Volley.

Champions League Pool B: Azimut Leo Shoes Modena started off promising against Lube Civitanova, and it needed a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. After pulling off a 27-25 win in the first set, it squandered a 16-12 lead in the second set to lose 26-28. Osmany Juantorena (21 points) and Tsvetan Sokolov (20 points) took over for Lube to close out the match and win 3-1. Micah Christenson was not in the lineup as he had surgery the day before. Max Holt finished with seven points on five kills, one block, one ace, and a .444 hitting percentage. Brenden Sander was not featured in the match for Lube.

ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle made quick work of CEZ Karlovarsko in a 3-0 sweep on Wednesday. James Shaw got the start at opposite for his new club. Shaw contributed eight points on seven kills and a block. He had only taken a total of three swings for ZAKSA coming into the match and had yet to get a kill, so this match provided Shaw with a brand new role and responsibilities. His kills came with six errors and a .067 hitting percentage. Jalen Penrose had one of the most productive matches of his rookie season with 12 kills and one block. The opposite from Penn State came off the bench in the first set and started the last two.

Playoff Scenarios: Lube Civitanova has secured the top position in the pool and a place in the quarterfinals. Modena’s loss to its domestic rival has knocked it out of contention for the quarterfinals. Karlovarsko, yet to earn a win, is also eliminated from playoff contention. ZAKSA is in second place with nine points. At this point the Polish club is in position as one of the top three runners up to qualify for the playoffs, but it will need a favorable result against Lube Civitanova to advance.

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Champions League Pool C: Chaumont 52 VB was just three points away from claiming the top spot in the pool against Zenit St. Petersburg, but the Russian vice champions from a year ago pulled out a 20-18 win in the fifth set to remain undefeated. Taylor Averill once again led Chaumont in scoring, a remarkable feat for a middle blocker. Averill scored 18 points on 15 kills, an ace and two blocks while hitting .824. Michael Saeta contributed three kills and two aces as the setter while leading the offense to a .290 attack efficiency. Oreol Camejo led Zenit St. Petersburg with 20 kills and Gyorgy Grozer chipped in 19.

Playoff Scenarios: Zenit St. Petersburg has clinched a spot in the quarterfinals but has not secured first place in the pool. Chaumont is in great position to reach the playoffs. A win over ACH Volley of Slovenia will put Saeta and Averill through to the next round. A loss does not eliminate Chaumont, but it would need two teams from ZAKSA, Dynamo Moscow, PGE Skra Bełchatów and Halkbank Ankara to also lose. Vfb Friedrichshafen and ACH Volley are out of playoff contention.

Champions League Pool D: Ben Patch started for Berlin Recycling Volleys and led it to a comeback win over Greenyard Maaseik. After being down 0-2, Patch led the surge to take the next three sets with 31 kills, one block and one kill. He made 47 attack attempts and hit .554. Jeff Jendryk scored seven points on six kills and a block with a .500 hitting percentage. Kyle Russell was used as a substitute in the third, fourth, and fifth sets, registering a point from a block. Dustin Watten did not play in the match for Berlin.

Playoff Scenarios: Trefl Gdansk has secured the top spot in the pool. Skra is in second place, but it currently is not in position to reach the playoffs. It is in a similar situation as Halkbank Ankara. Greenyard Maaseik and Berlin Recycling Volleys have no chance of reaching the quarterfinals at this point.

Champions League Pool E: Jonah Seif was used by Sir Safety Perugia as a substitute in the first, third, and fourth sets of a 3-1 win over Dynamo Moscow. He finished with a point from a block in the win. Perugia was led by Aleksandar Atanasijevic (23 points) and Wilfredo Leon (17 points) just three days after claiming the Coppa Italia.

Mitch Stahl was not used by Tours VB in a 3-2 victory over Arkas Izmir of Turkey. Hermans Eglesklans led the match with 26 points for Tours in the win.

Playoff Scenarios: Sir Safety Perugia has already secured first pace with a 5-0 record and 15 points. Dynamo Moscow is in second place at 3-2 with nine points and is in good position to qualify for the quarterfinals. It controls its own destiny and needs only to defeat Tours in its last match. Tours and Arkas Izmir are no longer in contention to reach the playoffs.

CEV Cup: Aaron Russell played in the first two sets of Itas Trentino’s 3-0 sweep of Lindaren Volley Amriswil. The FIVB Club World Champions only needed to claim two sets in order to advance to the semifinals. At that point Russell and Luca Vettori were pulled from the lineup which was already without Simone Gianelli and Uros Kovacevic. Russell put away 11 kills and two blocks with a .526 hitting percentage during his time on the court. Trentino will play Olympiakos of Greece in the semifinals on the 26th of February.

Arvis Greene played the third set for VaLePa in its 3-0 loss to Kuzbass Kemerovo, the second-placed team in Russia, on Wednesday. Greene finished with six kills and hit .500. VaLePa were eliminated from the CEV Cup with the loss.

CEV Challenge Cup: Fonte Bastardo Azores beat Sporting Clube Lisboa 3-2 on Wednesday, but it needed to win in three or four sets to force a golden set. Kevin Rakestraw scored eight points in the middle for Fonte Bastardo in the win on five kills, two blocks, and an ace with a .444 hitting percentage. Lisboa will be advancing to the semifinals after taking the match to five sets.

Russia: Matt Anderson was back on the left side and scored 11 points for Zenit Kazan in a sweep of Lokomotiv Novosibirsk on Sunday. Anderson finished with 10 kills and one block while hitting .529. Maxim Mikhailov led Zenit Kazan with 17 points from 15 kills, one block, and one ace.

Fakel Novy Urengoy fell to fourth place after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Zenit St. Petersburg. Oreol Camejo and Gyorgy Grozer led Zenit St. Petersburg with 22 and 20 points respectively. Erik Shoji had a rough outing in serve receive with 14 percent positive passes and nine percent perfect.

Brazil: Taylor Sander was not in the lineup for Sada Cruzeiro in its match against Volei Renata. His absence due to an abdominal injury was noticeable as the Copa Brasil champions dropped the first two sets before winning the match in a tiebreak.

Taylor Sander-Pro mens notebook 2/19/2019
Taylor Sander watches the match from the stands with an abdominal strain/Sada Cruzeiro Twitter

Volei Um Itapetininga took EMS Taubate Funvic to a fifth set but could not finish off the 2017 runners up. Price Jarman played the whole match at middle blocker and scored 14 points on 13 kills and a block. While Jarman and his team could not firmly track Raphael’s offense (only three blocks as a team), he hit .574 without only one attack error.

Italy: The SuperLega was back in action after the break for the Coppa Italia last weekend. Lube Civitanova completely dismantled a Modena team without Micah Christenson. The American setter had surgery to repair a meniscus last Tuesday. With Wessel Keeminik setting Modena could only muster a .225 hitting percentage. Ivan Zaytsev led the team with eight points on eight kills with a .190 attack average. Max Holt finished with two kills and a block while hitting .143. Brenden Sander was not in the lineup for Lube, who was led by 17 points from Tsvetan Sokolov. The Bulgarian opposite hit an astounding .800 from the right side without committing an attack error. The loss puts Modena level with Revivre Axopower Milano on 42 points, though Modena has a better record (15-6 to 14-7).

Perugia continues to roll on with a 3-0 sweep over BCC Castellana Grotte on Sunday. Jonah Seif was used as a substitute in each set and Wilfredo Leon was given a rest in favor of Nicholas Hoag of Canada. Aleksandar Atanasijevic led the way with 22 points.

Calzedonia Verona overcame a 1-2 deficit to beat Itas Trentino in five sets on Monday behind 24 from Matey Kayisky and 20 from Stephen Boyer. It was not the best of outings for Aaron Russell who scored 11 points on nine kills, one ace, and one block with a .208 hitting percentage. Uros Kovacevic led Trentino with 20 points from 17 kills, 1 block, and two aces. The loss keeps Trentino in second place and three points behind Perugia.

Kupono Fey started at outside hitter and played the whole match for Globe Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora in a 3-0 defeat to Vero Volley Monza. Fey scored five points on three kills and two aces but hit -.091 in the defeat.

Poland: Asseco Resovia Rzeszów extended its winning streak to three matches on Saturday. What made its latest win so impressive was that it came at the expense of undefeated ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle. Kawika Shoji started at setter and ran the offense to a .405 attack average. Four of the five attacking players in the lineup produced double-digit points. Dave Smith finished with seven points from five kills, one block, one ace, and hit .571. James Shaw played for ZAKSA as a substitute in all three sets. He registered two kills on two attempts.

Kawika Shoji-Resovia-Pro mens notebook 2/19/2019
Kawika Shoji was named the player of the match in Resovia’s win over ZAKSA/plusliga.pl photo

It was erroneously reported last week that Jake Langlois was playing opposite for MKS Będzin when he was actually playing middle blocker due to injuries on the team. Langlois played in a 3-0 defeat to Onico Warsaw on Thursday. Langlois again finished with eight points and two blocks while hitting .600 without any errors. Langlois should be back at outside hitter in Będzin’s next match against Aluron Virtu Warta Zawierce on Wednesday.

Germany: SVG Lüneburg earned a win against Volleyball Bisons Bühl in four sets on Saturday. Cody Kessel contributed 12 points on 10 kills and two aces while hitting .315 on the night. Jake Arnitz came off the bench for Bühl in the third and fourth sets, finishing with two kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Oliver Martin was not in the lineup for Bühl.

Antwain Aguillard put down five stuff blocks and nine kills for Helios Grizzlys Giesen, but it was not enough to overcome Netzhoppers SolWo Königspark KW. Aguillard hit .412 in the five-set loss.

Daniel Ford played the first two sets as a substitute and started the third set for SWD powervolleys Düren in a sweep over TV Rottenburg. Ford set Düren to a .365 attack average in the third set. Mitch Penning finished with six points for Rottenburg on three kills, three blocks, and a .375 attack average.

Berlin Recycling Volleys beat VCO Berlin in a sweep on Sunday. VCO Berlin did not give its cross-town rivals much of a fight, failing to get past 18 points in any set. Patch started again at opposite, finishing the match with nine points on eight kills and an ace with a .400 hitting percentage. Jeff Jendryk scored 10 points in the middle on eight kills and two blocks. Jendryk hit an incredible .889 without committing a single error in attack. Kyle Russell was used as a substitute in the first and third sets. He contributed three kills while hitting .125. Watten started and played the whole match at libero, finishing with a match-high 44 percent perfect passes.

Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching remained in first place with a sweep over WWK Volleys Herrsching on Sunday. Griffin Shields started the first two sets at opposite for Herrsching and scored seven points from six kills and a block with a .125 attack average. Nick West replaced him in the third set, finishing with two kills, one block, and a .111 hitting percentage.

France: Chaumont is now in fourth place after beating third-place Rennes in four sets on Saturday. Taylor Averill registered 10 points on five kills, two blocks, and three aces with a .444 attack average. Michael Saeta scored seven points on four kills, two blocks and an ace. He set Chaumont to a .213 hitting percentage.

Dan McDonnell finished with eight points in the middle for Tourcoing in a sweep of Cannes on Saturday evening.McDonnell scored on four kills and four blocks while hitting .500 without committing an attack error in the victory.

Mitch Stahl did not see the court for first-place Tours in a 3-1 victory over Narbonne.

Belgium: Sam Holt was used as a substitute for Knack Roeselare in a 3-0 win over Lindemans Aalst. He played in the third set and did not finish with any points.

Czech Republic: The Czech Extraliga was on hiatus for the Czech Cup this weekend. Jalen Penrose and CEZ Karlovarsko lost in the semifinals to Kladno Volleyball CZ. Unfortunately the stats were not published.

Finland: Matt West set Hurrikaani Loimaa to a .327 hitting percentage in a 3-2 win over Raison Loimu on Friday. West also contributed six points on two kills, two blocks, and two aces.

Arvis Greene started and played the first four sets for VaLePa in a 3-2 win over Akaa-Volley on Saturday. Greene scored 17 on 16 kills and a block while hitting .417 for the match. He came off the bench in the third set and played the rest of the match on Sunday in a 3-2 defeat to the Vantaa Ducks. He posted 18 kills in two and a half sets on the court with a .500 hitting percentage. Greene remains the leader of the Mestaruusliiga in points per set at 5.07.

Switzerland: Scott Fifer set TV Schönenwerd to a 3-1 victory over Biogas Volley Näfels on Saturday. Fifer set Schönenwerd to a .350 hitting percentage and also scored from an ace in the win. Lucas Yoder was not used by Näfels in the defeat.

Norway: Ryan Manoogian did not see any action on Saturday for TIF Viking in a 3-1 win over Førde Volleyballklubb.

Greece: Garrett Muagututia did not figure in PAOK Thessaloniki’s match against Olympiakos on Friday. Olympiakos, fresh off of winning the Greek League Cup, swept PAOK behind 15 points from Gavin Schmitt of Canada.

Looking Ahead
Russia: Fakel Novy Urengoy vs. Kuzbass Kemerovo , February 20 — Erik Shoji and Fakel have an important match against second-place Kuzbass. Fakel dropped to fourth place after losing to Zenit St. Petersburg last week. This match will feature two of Russia’s premier pin hitters of the near future: Igor Kliuka and Victor Poletaev. With only six matches left in the regular season, this match will have huge playoff seeding implications come April.

Germany: Berlin Recycling Volleys vs. Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching, February 20 — Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys has been the most consistent team in the German Bundesliga, but it is also has not had to worry about European cup competitions the way Friedrichshafen, Frankfurt, and Berlin all have. Matthew Pollock and Unteraching are having to travel to Max-Schmeling-Halle, a tough place for opponents to play. Berlin is also eliminated from the CEV Champions League and German Cup, so all of its attention can now be placed on the Bundesliga. Jeff Jendryk has been putting up big numbers in the middle for Berlin and Patch has found his way back into the starting lineup. The conditions could be just right for Berlin to come away with three points and hand Unterhaching its third loss.

Poland: Asseco Resovia Rzeszów vs. Trefl Gdansk, February 20 — Both of these clubs are performing far below expectations this year. This match is listed as one to watch because of Resovia’s current form. It is on a three-match winning streak, including consecutive wins over Skra and ZAKSA. With Kawika Shoji at the helm, Resovia looks capable of inching its way back into playoff contention. That seemed out of the question a mere month ago.

Titles Won by Americans: The following is a list of titles won by American players with their foreign clubs. This list includes domestic cups, continental cups, the world championships and domestic leagues. This list does not include super cup competitions except for Italy since that is the only super cup which takes more than one match to win. This list will continue to grow as more cup competitions and seasons conclude

Matt Anderson, Zenit Kazan, Russian Cup
Micah Christenson, Modena, Italian SuperCoppa
Arvis Greene, VaLePa, Finnish Suomen Cup
Max Holt, Modena, Italian SuperCoppa
Sam Holt, Knack Roeselare, Belgian Cup
Michael Michelau, Falkenberg VBK, Swedish Cup
Aaron Russell, Trentino, FIVB Club World Championship
Taylor Sander, Sada Cruzeiro, Copa Brasil
Jonah Seif, Perugia, Coppa Italia

The post International men: Champions League recaps, playoffs analysis appeared first on Volleyballmag.com.

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