COLORADO SPRINGS (Feb. 2, 2017) – Men’s college volleyball teams are in the thick of their seasons and players who have U.S. Men’s National Team experience are standing out for their schools.
U.S. Men’s Head Coach John Speraw has coached UCLA to a 9-1 record. The Bruins are ranked No. 2 by the AVCA. Middle blocker Mitch Stahl (Chambersburg, Pa.), who played on the 2015 Pan American Games team, is averaging .56 aces per set (seventh in the country) and 1.13 blocks per set (ninth in the country). Setter Micah Ma’a (Kaneohe, Hawai’i), who has trained with the U.S. Men, leads the team in assists with 181 (5.66 assists/set).
Long Beach State sits at No. 3 in the AVCA rankings with a 7-2 record. The 49ers are led by Alan Knipe, who coached the U.S. Men from 2009-2012. Setter Josh Tuaniga (Long Beach, Calif.), who played on the 2016 Pan American Cup team, leads the nation with 11.33 assists per set. Outside hitter T.J. DeFalco (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who played on the 2015 Pan American Games team, is eighth in the nation in attacks per set (8.12), 10th in kills per set (3.97) and ninth in points per set (4.61).
BYU’s men’s team is ranked fourth with a record of 7-2. Opposite Ben Patch (Provo, Utah), who played on the 2015 Pan American Cup team, leads the country in kills per set (4.75) and is No. 2 in points per set (5.25). Outside hitter Jake Langlois (San Jose, Calif.), who played on the 2015 and 2016 Pan American Cup teams, is fifth in the country in aces per set (.64). Outside hitter Brendan Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who played on the 2016 Pan American Cup team, has been struggling with a knee injury, but has been an impact player for the Cougars when he has played.
Loyola of Chicago is ranked No. 10 at 4-3 and middle blocker Jeff Jendryk, who played on the 2015 and 2016 Pan American Cup teams, is sixth in the country in hitting percentage (.495).
The University of Southern California has struggled this season and has a 2-7 record. Middle blocker Andy Benesh, who played on the 2015 Pan American Cup team, has been a bright spot. He is 10th in the country in hitting percentage (.441) and is second on the team in scoring (94 points, 2.54 points per set).
Middle blocker David Smith (Saugus, Calif.), libero Dustin Watten (Long Beach, Calif.) and Cerrad Czarni Radom beat Effector Kielce, 25-22, 25-17, 25-19 on Jan. 28. Smith scored 10 points on six kills, two blocks and two aces. Watten was credited with nine receptions, 56 percent positive.
Setter Jonah Seif (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and MKS Będzin beat Cuprum Lubin, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-11 on Jan. 27. Seif started the first four sets and substituted in the fifth. He scored five points on two kills, two blocks and one ace. He set his team to a .341 hitting efficiency.
Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Cucine Lube Civitanova won the Cup of Italy, beating Diatec Trentino in the final on Jan. 29, 25-21, 23-25, 25-15, 25-20. Christenson scored three points on two blocks and one ace. He set his team to a .515 hitting efficiency.
In the semifinals on Jan. 28, Civitanova beat LPR Piancenza, 25-12, 23-25, 25-15, 24-26, 15-13. Christenson scored seven points on two kills, two blocks and three aces. He set Civitanova to a .536 hitting efficiency.
In the other semifinal, middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati) and Azimut Modena fell to Trentino, 26-28, 30-28, 22-25, 30-28, 15-13. Holt scored 10 points on five kills and five blocks. Outside hitter Brian Cook (Santa Cruz, Calif.) played for Modena as a substitute.
Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), who plays outside hitter for Zenit Kazan, helped his team to a 25-18, 25-19, 25-18 win over Dinamo Leningrad. Anderson scored eight points on five kills, two blocks and one ace. He was credited with nine receptions, 33 percent positive.
Libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii), setter Kawika Shoji (Honolulu) and Lokomotiv Novosibirsk fell to Belogorie Belgorod, 32-30, 34-32, 25-23 on Jan. 28. Kawika Shoji set his team to a .446 hitting efficiency. Erik Shoji was credited with 21 receptions, 67 percent positive.
Middle blocker Dan McDonnell (Glendale, Ariz.) and Chaumont defeated Sete, 25-21, 29-27, 25-16 on Jan. 28. McDonnell scored 10 points on six kills and a match-high four aces.
Middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) and Ziraat Bankasi defeated Besiktas, 25-21, 25-15, 25-23 on Jan. 28. Lee scored three points on two kills and one block.
CEV Champions League
Micah Christenson and his Italian team Cucine Lube Civitanova beat U.S. outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) and Poland’s Asseco Resovia Rzeszow, 25-21, 25-16, 25-16 in the fourth leg of pool play at the CEV Champions Cup on Feb. 1.
Christenson scored two points on one kill and one ace and set his team to a .507 hitting efficiency. Jaeschke played as a substitute.
Matt Anderson and Russia’s Zenit Kazan beat Germany’s VfB Friedrichshafen, 25-18, 40-38, 25-17 on Jan. 31. Anderson scored 14 points on nine kills, a match-high three blocks and a match-high two aces.
Outside hitter Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) and Italy’s Sire Safety Perugia defeated Russia’s Belogorie Belgorod, 25-19, 16-25, 24-26, 25-17, 15-11 on Feb. 1. Russell scored 16 points on 14 kills, one block and one ace. He was credited with 11 receptions, 18 percent positive.
CEV CHALLENGE CUP
Middle blocker Dan McDonnell (Glendale, Ariz.) and France’s Chaumont fell to Portugal’s Benfica Lisboa, 23-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 15-13 in the second match of the round of eight on Feb. 1. McDonnell started the first two sets and scored four points on three kills and one block.