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U.S. Men's Update: A Look Back at Japan

By BJ Evans | Jan. 22, 2014, 4 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 22, 2014) – Although the U.S. Men’s National Team did not medal at the 2013 Grand Champions Cup in November in Japan, many positive things came out of the team’s participation.

Erik Shoji, left, and Micah Christenson in Japan
  Erik Shoji, left, and Micah Christenson pose in Tokyo by a poster
 celebrating the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Will they be there?

Outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) proved he is one of the best in the world by leading all players in scoring with a total of 104 points on 93 kills, five blocks and six aces. Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati) was named the first middle blocker on the tournament all-star team. He finished with 17 blocks and averaged .85 blocks per set.

Two of the newest players on the U.S. Men’s Team also received kudos from both U.S. Head Coach John Speraw and other coaches at the tournament.

Libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu), 24, led all players in digs with a total of 53 and an average of 2.65 per set. Shoji was also among the top receivers with 57 excellent receptions and an efficiency percentage of 53.1.

“Japan was a blast,” Shoji wrote in an e-mail from Austria where he is playing for Hypo Tirol Innsbruck. “I love the Japanese culture, so being able to experience it for a few days was unbelievable.

“I also loved the volleyball aspect of the trip. Although we didn't do as well as we wanted, we competed well against the best teams in the world. Personally it's always a dream come true to play against teams like Brazil, Italy and Russia so it was an amazing experience. “

Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu), 20, was also praised in his debut playing in an FIVB senior level tournament where he set the U.S. Men to a 48.8 kill percent.

“The lessons I learned at this tournament were immense,” Christenson said. “You can only learn those lessons by playing these top tier teams at such a high level.”

Christenson also enjoyed his time in Japan.

“I love Japan. This is my first time here and I’m definitely inclined to come back,” he said. “It was an amazing trip.”

2014 World League Pools

The FIVB has expanded the field for World League from 18 countries to 28.

The 28 teams have been split into seven pools of four teams. The U.S. Men, ranked No. 4 in the world, share Pool B with Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia.

During the Intercontinental Round, teams in Pool A through E will play double home and away matches for a total of 12 matches per team. Pools F and G will feature two stand-alone tournament per pool involving all four teams in the pool.

The U.S. Men will play matches in the United States the weekends of June 6 (vs. Russia), June 13 (vs. Serbia) and June 20 (vs. Bulgaria). They will play away matches the weekends of May 23 (at Bulgaria), June 27 (at Russia) and July 4 (at Serbia).
The top two teams in pools A and B will advance to the Final Round along with the host country and the winner from the final four of Pools C, D and E. Pools F and G will have their own final tournament.

2014 World League Pools

Pool A Pool B Pool C Pool D Pool E Pool F Pool G
BRA (1) RUS (2) BEL (37)* ARG (7) NED (31) TUN (13)* PUR (20)
ITA (3) USA (4) CAN (11) GER (10) KOR (21) TUR (45)* CHN (18)
POL (5) BUL (6) AUS (14) FRA (16) POR (38) CUB (7) SVK (36)*
IRI (12) SRB (9) FIN (30) JPN (17) CZE (22) MEX (22)* ESP (25)

() Numbers in brackets denote world ranking
*First time World League participant

Russia

Matt Anderson and Zenit Kazan are 8-0 in the Russian Super League. On Jan. 11, Anderson scored 15 points on 14 kills and one block in Kazan’s 25-18, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20 victory over Yaroslavich Yaroslavl. On Jan. 18, Anderson had 10 points on six kills, one block and three aces in a 25-20, 25-17, 25-19 win over Dinamo Krasnodar.

Anderson and Kazan lead the league with a 9-0 record.

To spend one day with Matt Anderson while he’s training in Kazan, visit youtube.com/watch?v=OVhkBod_inM.

Max Holt and Dinamo Moscow are in fourth place in the league at 7-2. Holt scored seven points on four attacks and three blocks on Jan. 11 as Dinamo defeated Fakel Novy Urangoy, 25-23, 25-20, 25-21. On Jan. 19, Holt totaled 11 points on six kills, four blocks and one ace in a 25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20 win over Prikamye Perm.  

2014 World Championship

The Drawing of Lots for the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship Poland 2014 will take place on Monday, Jan. 27 at the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw.

The Drawing of Lots will determine the teams that will play against each other at the 2014 FIVB World Championship on Aug. 30-Sept. 21 in Poland.

In addition to the Drawing of Lots and announcement of the host cities, highlights include the unveiling of the World Championship trophy and full details of the opening ceremony and match that will launch the most anticipated event of the 2014 volleyball season.

The event will be live streamed on fivb.org and the trophy will be on display for members of the media following the ceremony.

To date, 16 out of 24 teams have qualified for the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship following the completion of the European round of qualifications in early January, with only the African Confederation (three vacancies) and NORCECA (five vacancies) still to complete their qualification process for the World Championship tournament.

The U.S. Men will compete in the NORCECA World Championship Qualifier in May at a site in the United States.

CEV Champions Cup

Three teams with U.S. players have advanced to the six-team playoff round of the CEV Champions League.

Matt Anderson and Zenit Kazan played the Berlin Recycling Volleys (5-1), which includes setter Kawika Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) and outside hitter Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.) in their first-round playoff matches. On Jan. 16, Anderson and Kazan defeated Berlin, 25-20, 25-22, 25-20. Anderson led all scorers with 15 points on 12 kills, two blocks and one ace. On Jan. 21, Kazan again beat Berlin 25-11, 25-20, 25-23 to advance to the next round.

Setter Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) and Italy’s Diatec Trentino won both first-round playoff matches over outside hitter Jeff Menzel (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Noliko Maaseik of Belgium. On Jan. 14, Trentino defeated Maaseik, 22-25, 25-15, 26-24, 25-18. Suxho scored three points and set his team to a 53.3 hitting efficiency. Menzel scored 12 points on 12 kills. On Jan. 22, Trentino defeated Maaseik, 25-23, 25-19, 26-28, 25-23.  Suxho played two sets and scored three points while setting the team to a 49.5 hitting efficiency. Menzel scored 19 points on 17 attacks, one block and one ace.

Outside hitter Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and the Polish team Asseco Resovia Rzeszow also won both of their playoff matches over Belgium’s Knack Roeselare. On Jan. 14, Rzeszow defeated Roeselare, 22-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-18. On Jan. 22, Rzesezow won 25-18, 26-28, 25-16, 25-18. Lotman started the third set and scored five points.

Middle blocker David Smith(Saugus, Calif.), outside hitter Jayson Jablonsky (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and their French team Tours lost both of their first-round playoff matches to Poland’s Jastrzebski Wegiel and are done in the tournament.

Germany

Scott Touzinsky, Kawika Shoji and the Berlin Recycling Volleys are in fourth place in the German league. On Jan. 12, they defeated Generali Haching, 25-18, 26-24, 25-21. Touzinsky scored nine points on nine kills and also had 19 receptions, 53 percent positive. Shoji set the team to a 52.3 hitting efficiency.

Poland

Paul Lotman started for Asseco Resovia in Poland’s Plus Liga and helped the team to a 25-20, 25-15, 25-23 victory over PGE Skra Bełchatów on Jan. 18. Lotman scored six points on six kills. Resovia leads the Plus Liga. 

Opposite Carson Clark (Santa Barbara, Calif.) led his team with 21 points on Jan. 17, but it wasn’t enough as Transfer Bydgoszcz fell to ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle, 21-25, 25-17, 16-25, 25-22, 15-7. Clark scored on 16 kills, one block and a match-high four aces. Bydgoszcz is in ninth place in the league.

France

David Smith, Jayson Jablonsky and Tours are in second place in the standings. On Jan. 18, Tours defeated Montpellier, 24-26, 25-17, 25-21, 25-19. Smith finished with nine points on six attacks and three blocks. Jablonsky did not play.

Opposite Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.) led St-Nazaire to a 24-26, 25-23, 25-19, 25-15 win over Chaumont on Jan. 18. Troy scored 18 points on 16 attacks, one block and one ace. Chaumont is in ninth place in the league and moving up.

Middle blocker Futi Tavana (Kalaheo, Hawaii) and Toulouse are in 12th place in the league. On Jan. 18, they fell to Paris, 25-19, 25-23, 25-18. Tavana started the third set and scored four points on two attacks and two blocks.

Austria

Erik Shoji and middle blocker Andy Hein (Carol Stream, Ill.) and their Austrian team Hypo Tirol VT are in second place in the league. On Jan. 18, Tyrol defeated SG Union Raiffeisen Waldviertel, 23-25, 25-11, 25-19, 31-29. Shoji was credited with 15 receptions, 47 percent positive and Hein scored eight points on six attacks and two blocks.

Turkey

Middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and Istanbul BBSK are in fourth place in the league. On Jan. 18, they defeated Halkbank, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 25-18. Holmes scored four points on three kills and one block.

Belgium

Jeff Menzel and Noliko Masseik are in fourth place in Belgium’s league. On Jan. 18, Masseik fell to Precura Antwerpen, 25-19, 25-13, 25-22. Menzel played in two sets and scored six points on four attacks and two aces.

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