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 email@example.com.
TJ DeFalco and Asseco Resovia Rzeszów entered last week with two important matches on their schedule. ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle, winners of last year’s PlusLiga and the last two CEV Champions Leagues, awaited the club on November 2. That would be followed up with Jastrzębski Węgiel, the team at the top of the standings and the winners of the Polish Super Cup a week ago.
Resovia came into the week with a 6-0 record and 17 of a possible 18 points in the standings. The only other time the club had won its first six was in 2014. That team had the current setter, Fabian Drzyzga, along with Paul Lotman and Russell Holmes. That was also the last Resovia team to win the PlusLiga title. Resovia also won the silver in the Champions League, losing to a Zenit Kazan team with Matt Anderson. The club is not taking part in the Champions League this year, has put together a good run to start the season and push for another PlusLiga crown.
The CEV Champions League starts the fourth round, or group stage, this week. The Berlin Recycling Volleys opened up its European campaign on November 8 with a come-from-behind win over Hebar Pazardzhik of Bulgaria in five sets. Cody Kesell was a substitute in the first and fourth sets, scoring on a block and a kill in a 23-25, 23-25, 25-17, 28-26, 15-12 win.
Radoslav Parapunov scored 12 points for Vojvodina NS Seme Novi Sad of Bulgaria in a 25-23, 25-19, 25-20 loss to Jastrzębski Węgiel in the other match on November 8.
Gabi Garcia, Aleksander Nikolov and Lube Civitanova will face Benfica Lisbon on November 9. Dave Smith, Erik Shoji, and ZAKSA will also play on November 9 against CEZ Karlovarsko of the Czech Republic.
In what could be the most competitive and most anticipated match of the first leg will take place on November 10 when Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie hosts Halkbank Ankara. A lot of Polish fans have expressed discontent with Micah Ma’a for breaking his contract with GKS Katowice and heading to Turkey to play for Halkbank. The Turkish club is undefeated domestically, but hasn’t faced a team as talented as Zawiercie. While Zawiercie has more depth, Halkbank will have the best player on the court in Nimir Abdel Aziz.
A match to pay attention to in the CEV Cup, the second-tier cup in Europe, will also take place on November 10 when Chaumont faces PGE Skra Bełchatów. Gasman, Marshman and Chaumont have made a good showing in France so far, but this Skra club is better on paper. Mateusz Bienek is one of, if not the best middle blocker that Gasman has ever faced (taking into account he faced Lucas in Brazil and Simon at the Club World Championships last year). Aleksandar Atansijevic is having a bit of a revival this year as well.
TJ DeFalco scored 20 points in a significant win for Asseco Resovia Rzeszów over ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle 29-27, 25-19, 26-24, on November 2. He had 13 kills (hitting .455), and had five blocks and two aces, earning the match MVP award. While Dave Smith was not in the lineup for ZAKSA, Erik Shoji struggled in serve receive with no passes classified as positive or perfect.
Resovia dropped its first match of the season to Jastrzębski Węgiel on November 5. It was a straight-sets loss though each set was decided by two points. DeFalco finished with nine kills (.400) and an ace.
ZAKSA recovered from the mid-week defeat to earn a 25-22, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23 victory over Projekt Warszawa on November 6. Shoji bounced back to lead his team with 53 percent positive and 42 percent perfect passes.
LUK Lublin won its first two matches, starting with a 25-20, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21 victory over BBTS Bielsko-Biała on November 3. Jeff Jendryk contributed seven kills (.400), two blocks, and one ace. Dustin Watten passed 47 percent positively and 12 percent perfectly. Jake Hanes led BBTS Bielsko-Biała with 25 kills (.375), two blocks and two aces.
Lublin followed it up with a 29-27, 25-20, 19-25, 25-22 victory over Stal Nysa on November 6. Jendryk scored 11 points from five kills (.273), three blocks, and three aces. Watten turned in a 56 and 37 percent passing performance.
BBTS Bielsko-Biała suffered its second defeat of the week on November 6 to Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie. Despite six points per set from Hanes, his club still dropped the match 25-18, 25-21, 25-23. Hanes finished with 15 kills (.481), two aces, and one block.
Indykpol AZS Olsztyn had had a forgettable week, falling 25-20, 25-29, 25-20 to Stal Nysa on November 2 and 25-15, 27-25, 25-15 to Trefl Gdańsk on November 7. Taylor Averill finished with seven kills (.500) and two blocks in the first match. Tuaniga set the team to a .259 hitting percentage. In the second match, Averill scored on five kills (.714), while Tuaniga set the team to a .162 attack efficiency.
The semifinal round of the Russian Cup took place last weekend. There were three pools of four teams, with a round-robin taking place from November 4-6. The winners of each pool advanced to join Fakel Novy Urengoy (the host) in the final four on December 24. Zenit Kazan and Zenit Saint Petersburg were in the same pool. Zenit Kazan avenged its loss the previous week, by defeating St. Petersburg in four sets and win the pool. No stats were available, but Matt Anderson saw his first action for St. Petersburg.
After dropping the first set 25-16, Lube Civitanova fought back to take the next three against WithU Verona, 26-24, 25-21, 26-24. Garcia continued to start over Ivan Zaytsev and led the team with 26 points on 19 kills (.375), five aces, and two aces. He finished the match with two consecutive aces to earn the win. Alex Nikolov had 18 kills (.533), two blocks and an ace.
Halkbank Ankara made quick work of Hekimoglu Global on November 5, winning 25-21, 25-18, 25-17. Micah Ma’a finished with three kills, three aces, and two blocks while setting the team to a .513 attack average. Nimir Abdel Aziz scored 19 points for the winners.
Arkas Spor beat Fenerbahce 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 on November 5. Dan McDonnel had three kills (.600) and an ace.
JT Thunders Hiroshima suffered its first defeat of the season to Osaka Blazers 25-17. 22-25, 25-23. 25-19. Aaron Russell scored on 18 kills, one block, and one ace in the loss. Hiroshima beat Osaka the next night 20-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-21 as Russell scored a match-high 30 points from 26 kills, two blocks, and two aces.
Chaumont beat Saint Nazaire 25-20, 29-27, 16-25, 27-25 on November 2. Pat Gasman contributed eight kills (.500) three blocks, and an ace. Michael Marshman was used as a substitute in the third set, scoring on a kill and an ace. Kyle Ensing led Saint Nazaire with 24 points, finishing with 17 kills (.366), four blocks, and three aces. Quinn Isaacson set his club to a .355 hitting percentage with three kills of his own.
Tyler Mitchem was used as a substitute for Plessis Robinson in a 25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 20-25, 15-12 win over Poitiers on November 2. He put away two kills on two attempts.
Arago de Sète dropped a 25-22, 25-22, 26-24 decision to Tours on November 2. Kyle Russell finished with 11 kills (.320) and an ace.
Chaumont solidified its place at the top of the standings with a 25-21, 25-18, 29-27, 25-20 win over Paris on November 5. Gasman scored 10 points on seven kills (.364), two blocks, and an ace. Marshman started the match and contributed nine points. He finished with six kills (.500) and three blocks.
Russell scored six points for Arago de Sète in a 19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-18 victory over Cambrai on November 5. He places in the first two sets, chipped in five kills (.200) and a block.
Saint Nazaire rebounded with a 19-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-13 win against Nice on November 6. Ensing had 17 kills (.469), one block and one ace in the win. Isaacson set the team to a .393 hitting percentage, and scored five points from the service line to go with a kill and an ace.
Tyler Mitchem got the start in the middle for Plessis Robinson in a 25-20, 28-26, 25-22 defeat to Montpellier on October 29. Mitchem had three kills (.400).
The round of 16 in the German Cup took place last weekend. Bundesliga teams took on Bundesliga.2 teams in each of the match-ups. Randy Deweese scored 18 points on 16 kills (.695) and two aces for Netzhoppers in a 25-14, 25-22, 25-23 victory over PSV Neustrelitz on November 5. Max Chamberlain had two kills (.400) and a block.
Matt West set Helios Grizzlys Giesen to a .600 attack average in a 25-13, 28-26, 25-12 win over FC Schüttorf 09 on November 6. He also added a kill and an ace.
SVG Lüneburg earned a 25-18, 25-16, 25-19 victory against VC Bitterfeld-Wolfen on November 5. Jordan Ewert scored 16 points on 15 kills (.524) and a block. Joe Worsley set Lüneburg to a .455 hitting percentage to go with a kill and a block. Gage Worsley passed 71 percent of his receptions positively and 43 percent perfectly.
James Shaw set WWK Volleys Herrsching to a .458 attack efficiency in a 25-17, 25-23, 27-25 victory over TuS Kriftel on November 5.
Cody Kessell started and earned 10 points for the Berlin Recycling Volleys in a 25-14. 25-19, 25-18 sweep of Blue Volleys Gotha on November 5. He scored on nine kills (.471) and an ace.
Austin Wilmot was used as a serving sub in the third set for Itambe Minas in its 26-24, 25-20, 24-26, 25-17 win over SESI-SP on November 5. He completed two serves with no aces and no errors.
Matt Knigge hit .300 in a CV Guaguas victory over Barça Voleibol on November 5 and had five kills and two blocks from the middle in the 25-15, 25-18, 25-14 win.
Akaa-Volley defeated first-place Raision Loimu 23-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-22, 15-12 on November 2. Greg Petty contributed 15 kills (.333) and three aces.
Michael Michelau scored 21 points on 19 kills (.368), a block, and an ace for Savo Volley in a 25-21, 25-15, 21-25, 23-25, 15-13 loss to Karelian Hurmos on November 2.
Petty hit .500 on his way to seven kills to go along with a match-high four aces in a 17-25, 26-24, 25-23, 18-25, 15-5 win for Akaa-Volley over Karelian Hurmos on November 5.
Daniel Wetter scored 15 points in the middle for Perungan Pojat on November 5 in a 17-25, 25-22, 19-25, 27-25, 15-13 victory over Kokkolan Tiikerit. Wetter contributed nine kills (.300) and six kills.
Michelau and Savo Volley pulled off a 22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-23 win against Vantaa Ducks on November 5. He led Savo with 14 points from 10 kills (.160), two blocks, and two aces.
JT Hatch started for Lausanne UC in a 20-25, 30-28, 23-25, 25-17, 15-12 loss to Lindaren Volley Amriswil. He played in the first two sets and finished with one kill on seven attempts with no attack errors.
Lycurgus defeated Prima Donna Kaas Huizen in straight sets on November 5 behind 10 points from Ryan Coenen, who had six kills, three blocks, and one ace.
PAOK Thessaloniki handled A.O.P. Kifisias in three sets on November 5. Corey Chavers finished with nine kills (.292) and two aces in a 25-20, 29-27, 25-15 defeat.
Seamus McDonogh scored three points on a kill and two blocks while setting Hvidovre VK to a 22-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-13 defeat to Ikast KFUM on November 5.
Patrick Ross scored 14 points on 14 kills (.750) for Nordenskov UIF in a 25-20, 25-19, 25-19 win over ASV Elite on November 6. Max Rosenfeld finished with one kill after coming out of the match in the first set.
Barrus Võru VK dropped a 25-23, 23-25, 25-19, 21-25, 15-10 decision to Estonian powerhouse, Bigbank Tartu on November 5. Matt Slivinski finished with 23 kills (.350), two aces and a block. Slivinski is the league’s top server with 19 aces (.59 per set). Garrett Zolg set the team to a .248 hitting percentage and had two aces.