National Teams Update: Showdown in Italy
Outside hitters Aaron Russell goes up against U.S. teammates Micah Christenson and T.J. DeFalco in this week's update
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 17, 2021) – Several women’s and men’s pro club teams with U.S. players advanced to the quarterfinals of the CEV Champions league.
On the women’s side, Italy’s Igor Gorgonzola Novara, with U.S. setter Micha Hancock and middle blocker Haleigh Washington will face Turkey’s Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul, which recently acquired outside hitter Kelsey Robinson.
Setter Jordyn Poulter and Italy’s Unet e-work Busto Arsizio will face Turkey’s Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul with middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu and outside hitter Jordan Thompson.
Italy’s Savino Del Bene Scandicci, with outside hitter Megan Courtney, will play Italy Imoco Volley Conegliano with outside hitters Kim Hill and McKenzie Adams.
Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Turkey’s VakifBank Istanbul will play Poland’s Grupa Azoty Chemik Police.
The first round of quarterfinal matches will be played Feb. 23-25 and the second round on March 2-4.
On the men’s side, it was heartbreak for Germany’s Vfb Friedrichshafen, including U.S. setter Joe Worsley and libero Avery Aylsworth, when the team had to withdraw from the Champions League during pool play due to positive coronavirus cases.
The team was 2-1 after the first round of pool play, but could not compete in the second round, which it hosted.
Germany’s Berlin Recycling Volleys, with opposite Ben Patch and outside hitter Cody Kessel, did advance to the quarterfinals, where it will play Italy’s Trentino Itas.
Outside hitter Taylor Sander and Poland’s PGE Skra Belchatow will face Russia’s Zenit Kazan.
Middle blocker David Smith and Poland’s Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn-Koźle will play Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova.
Finally, setter Micah Christenson and Italy’s Leo Shoes Modena will face Italy’s Sir Safety Perugia.
As with the women, the first round of quarterfinal matches will be played Feb. 23-25 and the second round on March 2-4.
OTHER CEV TOURNAMENTS
Middle blocker Mitch Stahl and Belgium’s VC Greenyard Maaseik advanced to the semifinals of the men’s CEV Cup. They will play Russia’s Zenit St. Petersburg on Feb. 24 and March 4.
Turkey’s Türk Hava Yolları with setter Lauren Carlini and outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel reached the semifinals of the CEV Challenge Cup. They will play Turkey’s Sistem9 Yesilyurt Istanbul in the semifinals on Feb. 24 and March 3.
The Athletes Unlimited women’s indoor league will begin Feb. 27. Current U.S. Women’s National Team members Tori Dixon, Jordan Larson and Karsta Lowe will play as well as former members Lauren Gibbemeyer, Cassidy Lichtman and Paige Tapp.
Matches will be played in Dallas but are not open to the public. They will be shown via live streams on several social media platforms and also on television on CBS Sports and FOX Sports channels.
The Italian men’s league finished its regular season on Feb. 7. The playoffs will begin March 9.
Vero Volley Monza (14-8) with middle blocker Max Holt finished the regular season in fourth place. It will play outside hitter T.J. DeFalco and fifth-place Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia (13-9) in the playoff quarterfinals.
Vibo Valentia got a big win to finish the season on Feb. 7, beating second-place Cucine Lube Civitanova, 3-2 (22-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-10). DeFalco scored 15 points on 12 kills and three blocks.
Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza (13-9) and outside hitter Aaron Russell finished in sixth place. They will face Kione Padova, the team of setter Kawika Shoji, in a playoff preliminary series that begins Feb. 21. Shoji has been recovering from a broken bone in his hand.
In the regular-season finale, Piacenza beat Allianz Milano, 3-2 (25-22, 18-25, 25-15, 18-25, 15-11). Russell scored 18 points on 17 kills and one block.
Leo Shoes Modena (11-11) and setter Micah Christenson placed seventh. They will play 10th-place Consar Ravenna in a playoff preliminary series starting Feb. 21. On Feb. 7, Modena beat Top Volley Cisterna, 3-1 (26-24, 19-25, 25-13, 25-18). Christenson scored four points on two aces, one kill and one block and set Modena to a .430 hitting efficiency.
Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke and NBV Verona (7-15) finished ninth. They will play Allianz Milano in a playoff preliminary series starting Feb. 21. On Feb. 7, Verona fell to Padova, 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 13-25, 15-10). Jaeschke tied for the team lead in scoring with 18 points on 14 kills, three blocks and one ace.
There are two weeks left in the regular season of Italy’s Serie A women’s league.
Imoco Volley Conegliano with outside hitters Kim Hill and McKenzie Adams leads the league with a 22-0 record. On Feb. 14, Conegliano swept Zanetti Bergamo, 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-18). Adams started the first two sets and scored nine points on eight kills and one ace. Hill did not play. U.S. outside hitter Juliann Faucette Johnson led Bergamo (6-15) with 10 points on nine kills and one block.
Igor Gorgonzola Novara, with setter Micha Hancock and middle blocker Haleigh Washington, is in second place at 19-3. On Feb. 14, Novara beat Bartoccini Fortinfissi Perugia, 3-0 (25-19, 27-25, 25-22). Hancock scored four points on three aces and one kill and set Novara to a .277 hitting efficiency. Washington did not play.
Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri ’76 with U.S. middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan and outside hitter Alexandra Frantti is in fourth place at 12-9. On Feb. 14, Unet e-work Busto Arsizio with setter Jordyn Poulter beat Chieri, 3-2 (15-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-20, 15-9). Poulter scored two points on two blocks and set Busto Arsizio to a .438 hitting efficiency. Frantti led Chieri’s scoring with 22 points on 19 kills and three blocks. Alhassan scored 11 points on eight kills and three blocks. Busto Arsizio (11-9) is in sixth place.
Savino Del Bene Scandicci, with outside hitter Megan Courtney is in fifth place at 12-8.
On Feb. 14, Chieri beat Scandicci, 3-1 (22-25, 34-32, 25-17, 25-20). Alhassan scored 15 points on 11 kills and four blocks. Frantti played as a substitute and scored four points on four kills. Courtney tied as the leading scorer for Scandicci with 16 points on 14 kills and two blocks.
There is one match left in the regular season for Turkey’s women’s league.
Outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Turkey’s VakifBank Istanbul (26-1) sit in first place. On Feb. 14, Istanbul beat Nilüfer Bld. (19-9) with outside hitter Sarah Wilhite Parsons, 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 26-24). Bartsch-Hackley scored eight points on six kills, one block and one ace. Parsons led her team with 14 points on nine kills, four aces and one block.
Fenerbahçe Opet Istanbul (25-2) is in second place and recently added outside hitter Kelsey Robinson. On Feb. 14, it beat Kuzeyboru, 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-18). Robinson started the final two sets and scored eight points on seven kills and one ace.
Eczacıbaşı VitrA (22-6) with Chiaka Ogbogu and Jordan Thompson is in third place. On Feb. 15, Eczacıbaşı VitrA beat İlbank, 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-18). Neither Ogbogu nor Thompson played in the match.
Türk Hava Yolları (21-7) with setter Lauren Carlini and outside hitter Madi Kingdon Rishel is in fourth place. On Feb. 14, Türk Hava Yolları beat Çan Gençlik Kale Spor Kulübü, 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-16). Kingdon tied as her team’s leading scorer with 16 points on 11 kills, three blocks and two aces. Carlini scored four points on three blocks and one kill and set her team to a .304 hitting efficiency.
Poland’s men’s league has two more matches on the schedule, but teams are currently playing for the Polish Cup.
Outside hitter Garrett Muagututia helped Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie into the Cup semifinals with a match-high 18 points in a 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-19) win over BBTS Bielsko-Biała. Muagututia scored on 15 kills and three blocks.
Middle blocker David Smith and Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle will play Zawiercie inthe semis. They beat middle blocker Jeff Jendryk and Asseco Resovia Rzeszów, 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-19) on Feb. 17. Smith scored six points on four kills, one ace and one block. Jendryk started the first set and scored one point on one ace.
Outside hitter Taylor Sander and PGE Skra Bełchatów fell to Trefl Gdańsk in the quarterfinals, 3-1 (19-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-22). Sander scored 13 points on 11 kills, one block and one ace.
Libero Erik Shoji and Fakel Novy Urengoy (14-8) handed Dinamo Moscow (17-2) its second loss of the season, 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23) on Feb. 13. Shoji was credited with 21 receptions, 48 percent positive.
Opposite Danielle Cuttino, outside hitter Megan Hodge and Itambe Minas (17-1) lead the Brazilian women’s league. On Feb. 16, Itambe Minas beat Curitiba Volei, 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-17). Cuttino finished with 12 points on 10 kills and two blocks. Hodge did not play.
Opposite Annie Drews and JT Marvelous (16-4) are in second place in Japan’s women’s V League. On Feb. 14, they fell to the league-leading and undefeated Toray Arrows, 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 32-30). Drews led all scorers with 28 points on 25 kills, two aces and one block.
On Feb. 14, outside hitter Kathryn Plummer and the Denso Airybees defeated middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo and Hisamitsu Springs, 3-2 (16-25, 25-22, 22-25, 26-24, 15-9). Plummer scored 23 points on 20 kills, two blocks and one ace. Akinradewo scored 21 points on 17 kills and four blocks.
The Airybees (12-7) are in fourth place and Hisamitsu Springs (10-11) are in seventh.
Middle blocker Hannah Tapp and Hitachi Rivale (6-15) are in eighth place. On Feb. 14, they fell to the PFU Bluecats, 3-1 (25-16, 18-25, 25-15, 25-18). Tapp scored 16 points on 12 kills, two blocks and two aces.
Outside hitter Simone Lee and the Kurobe Aqua Fairies (4-16) are in 11th place. On Feb. 7, the Aqua Fairies fell to the NEC Red Rockets, 3-0 (25-7, 25-19, 25-17). Lee led her team in scoring with 12 points on nine kills and two blocks.
Vfb Friedrichshafen (15-1), with U.S. setter Joe Worsley and libero Avery Aylsworth remains in first place in the league although they are not competing due to the positive tests for coronavirus.
The Berlin Recycling Volleys (13-4) with opposite Ben Patch and outside hitter Cody Kessel, are in third place. On Feb. 6, they fell to Frankfurt, 3-2 (21-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-10). Patch led all scorers with 25 points on 19 kills, four blocks and two aces. Kessel did not play.
In Germany’s women’s league, libero Justine Wong-Orantes and VC Wiesbaden (4-12) are in eighth place. On Feb. 13, Wiesbaden fell to Rote Raben Vilsbiburg, 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 28-26). Wong-Orantes was credited with 15 receptions, 27 percent positive.
Middle blocker Taylor Averill and Cannes (15-5) are in second place in the French men’s A1 league. On Feb. 16, Cannes fell to Cambrai, 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-19). Averill scored 11 points on seven kills and four blocks.
Middle blocker Dan McDonnell and Chaumont (11-8) are in sixth place. On Feb. 16, Chaumont lost to Paris, 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 26-24, 25-18). McDonnell scored 10 points on six kills, three blocks and one ace.
Setter Micah Ma’a and Poitiers (9-10) are in eighth place. On Feb. 13, Poitiers beat Tourcoing, 3-1 (25-20, 25-17, 23-25, 25-23). Ma’a scored seven points on four blocks, two aces and one kill. He set Poitiers to a .516 hitting efficiency.
Belgium’s men’s league has finished the regular season. Middle blocker George Huhmann and Knack Roeselare (13-1) finished first. Middle blocker Mitch Stahl and VC Greenyard Maaseik (12-2) finished second.
The playoff semifinals begin on Feb. 27. Roeselare will play BDO Haasrode Leuven (7-7). Maaseik will face Decospan Volley Team Menen (10-4).
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