MNT Update: Now That’s Italian
Updates on U.S. Men's National Team players competing for international professional club teams.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 21, 2021) – European club teams with U.S. Men’s National Team players are doing well in the pool play round of the CEV Champions League.
Poland’s Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle with libero Erik Shoji and middle blocker David Smith is 2-0 after defeating Russia’s Lokomotiv Novosibirsk, 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 26-24, 25-23) on Dec. 14. Shoji was credited with 22 receptions, 32 percent positive. Smith scored six points on five kills and one block.
Italy’s Sir Safety Conad Perugia with outside hitter Matt Anderson is 2-0 after its most recent sweep of France’s AS Cannes, 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-18). Anderson started the first two sets and scored five points on three kills and two aces. He was credited with 13 receptions, 31 percent positive.
Opposite Ben Patch, middle Jeff Jendryk, outside hitter Cody Kessel, setter Matt West and Germany’s Berlin Recycling Volleys are 2-0 after defeating Portugal’s Sport Lisboa e Benfica, 3-1 on Dec. 15. Patch led all scorers with 15 points on a match-high 14 kills (.619) and one block. Jendryk added seven points on four kills and a match-high three blocks. West played as a substitute. Kessel was not on the roster.
In CEV Cup action, Micah Christenson and Russia’s Zenit Kazan have advanced to the round of 16 after winning two matches over Austria’s SK Zadruga AICH/DOB in the round of 32.
In the first match on Dec. 8, Kazan won 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-19). Christenson started the first two sets and helped Kazan to a .517 hitting efficiency. He did not play in the second match. Kazan will play Netherlands’ Orion Doetinchem in the next round on Jan. 12 and 20.
Setter Kawika Shoji and Turkey’s Spor Toto Ankara advanced to the round of 16 after beating middle blocker Dan McDonnell and Turkey’s Arkas Izmir in the round of 32. On Dec. 8, Ankara beat Izmir, 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20). Shoji scored seven points on a match-high five blocks, one kill and one ace. He set his team to a .391 hitting efficiency. McDonnell started the first three sets and scored three points on two kills and one block.
Ankara will play Italy’s Vero Volley Monza in the next round on Jan. 12 and 19.
Stal Nysa (1-12), the team of middle Mitch Stahl, got its first Polish league win when it beat libero Dustin Watten and LUK Lublin (5-7), 3-0 (32-30, 25-22, 25-22) on Dec. 20. Stahl did not play in the match. Watten was credited with 23 receptions, 57 percent positive.
Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle with Shoji and Smith is 13-0 and in first place in Poland’s league. On Dec. 19, it beat Cuprum Lubin, 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19). Shoji was credited with 19 receptions, 63 percent positive. Smith did not play.
On Dec. 10, Kędzierzyn-Koźle beat outside hitter T.J. DeFalco, middle blocker Taylor Averill and Indykpol AZS Olsztyn, 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-16). Shoji was credited with 12 receptions, 50 percent positive. Smith did not play. DeFalco scored 11 points on 11 kills. Averill started the first two sets and scored one point on a kill.
DeFalco missed Olsztyn’s most recent match on Dec. 19 due to illness, according to the club. Averill played as a substitute. Olsztyn (7-5) lost to Projekt Warszawa, 3-2 (21-25, 25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 15-8).
GKS Katowice (4-8) with setter Micah Ma’a fell to PGE Skra Bełchatów, 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 25-20. 25-16) on Dec. 17. Ma’a scored four points on three blocks and one ace. He set Katowice to a .307 hitting efficiency.
Setter Josh Tuaniga and Ślepsk Malow Suwałki (3-9) got a win over Trefl Gdańsk, 3-1 (28-26, 25-19, 20-25, 27-25) on Dec. 19. Tuaniga scored two points on two blocks and set Suwałki to a .482 hitting efficiency.
COVID is once again impacting the Italian league. Matt Anderson reported on Instagram that he is positive for the virus, although his team has been playing and leads the league at 11-1.
The Dec. 19 match between Allianz Milano (5-5), outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke’s team, and Gioiella Prisma Taranto was postponed due to positive COVID cases for Milano. Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza (6-4), with middle Max Holt and outside hitter Aaron Russell, has postponed two matches due to positive cases.
Middle Dan McDonnell and Arkas Izmir Spor (8-5) beat Allpower Akü Cizre Belediye, 3-0 (27-25, 25-19, 25-19) on Dec. 19. McDonnell scored six points on six kills (.750).
Setter Kawika Shoji and Spor Toto (8-5) beat Galatasaray HDI Sigorta, 3-2 (24-26, 25-16, 24-26, 25-14, 15-13) on Dec. 19. Shoji scored six points on three kills and three blocks and set his team to a .487 hitting efficiency.
The Berlin Recycling Volleys had to postpone their semifinal German Cup match, scheduled for Dec. 22 against VfB Friedrichshafen due to COVID cases among Berlin’s team, which were discovered Monday.
The Recycling Volleys are undefeated at 14-0 in league play. On Dec. 18 Berlin beat Energiequelle Netzhoppers KW-Bestensee, 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-19). Jeff Jendryk started the final two sets and scored five points on a match-high three blocks along with a kill and an ace. Matt West played as a substitute.
Opposite Kyle Ensing, outside hitter J.T. Hatch, libero Josh Ayzenberg and Maccabi Tel Aviv finished the first round of the season at 11-0 without dropping a set. They beat Hapoel Rehovot 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-18) on Dec. 21. Hatch led the way with 13 points and Ensing added three.