U.S. Men's Update: A Game of Sander Says

By BJ Evans | Dec. 02, 2014, 1:19 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 2, 2014) – U.S. outside hitter Taylor Sander not only moved into a starting role in his first year on the senior U.S. Men’s National Team, but was named the Most Valuable Player of the FIVB World League as the U.S. won the gold medal.

Taylor Sander
   Taylor Sander does an interview during the FIVB World League.

Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) is playing his first season overseas this winter for Calzedonia Verona in Italy’s Serie A league. We asked him how things are going:

Q: What has been the best part about playing in Italy so far?
A: The best thing about Italy so far is that I am getting to play against quality teams and train with very good players every day in practice. I also am enjoying learning a new culture and language and adjusting to living in Europe.

Q: What has been your greatest challenge in Italy?
A: The biggest challenge is communication. It was very hard at first communicating with teammates and little things like going to the super market and ordering food. It is getting easier the more I learn.

Q: What are you finding to do in Italy when you are not playing volleyball?
A: When I am not playing volleyball I have enjoyed touring various cities around my area. I also enjoy relaxing and hanging out with my teammates. We like to have a BBQ on occasion where we cool steaks and cheeseburgers. I am enjoying cooking pasta and Italian foods.

ITALY

Sander scored 19 points for Verona in its 26-28, 25-21, 25-22, 25-21 victory over Tonazzo Padova on Nov. 30. Sander scored on 17 kills and two blocks. He was credited with 28 receptions, 61 percent positive. Verona improved to 4-4 and is in sixth place in the 13-team league.

U.S. setter Riley McKibbin has left his Greek team GS Lamia (and his brother Maddison who also plays there) to join the Italian team CMC Ravenna. On Nov. 30, McKibbin played as a substitute, but did not score as Ravenna fell to Modena Volley, 25-15, 25-210, 31-29.

GERMANY

U.S. outside hitter Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.), setter Kawika Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) and libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) helped the Berlin Recycling Volleys to a 25-18, 25-17, 21-25, 25-15 victory over TV Rottenburg on Nov. 26. Erik Shoji was credited with 14 receptions, 86 percent positive and was named the match MVP. Touzinsky scored 13 points on nine kills, two blocks and two aces and was also credited with 26 receptions, 42 percent positive. Kawika Shoji scored one point with a block and set the team to a .481 hitting efficiency. Berlin is in second place in the league with an 8-1 record.

Middle blocker Nick Vogel (San Diego, Calif.) scored 10 points as VfB Friedrichshafen defeated TSV Herrsching, 25-27, 25-20, 25-19, 25-17 on Nov. 27. Vogel scored on seven attacks and three blocks. Friedrichshafen leads the league with an 8-1 record.

POLAND

U.S. opposite Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.) led all scorers with 20 points as his PlusLiga team Lotos Trefl Gdansk beat Jastrzebski Wegiel, 20-25, 25-22, 25-19, 19-25, 17-15 on Nov. 26. Troy scored on 16 kills and a match-high four aces. On Nov. 29, Troy was named the match MVP as he scored 24 points for Lotos Trefl Gdansk in beating AZS Politechnika Warszawska, 25-17, 21-25, 25-19, 20-25, 16-14. Troy scored on 21 kills, two blocks and one ace. Gdansk is in third place in the league with an 11-2 record.

Middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.), outside hitter Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and their PlusLiga team Asseco Resovia Rzeszów fell to PGE Skra Bełchatów, 25-19, 25-20, 25-20 on Nov. 30. Holmes scored four points on four attacks. Lotman played as a substitute. Rzeszów is in second place in the league at 11-2. Bełchatów leads the league at 13-0.

FRANCE

Libero Dustin Watten (Long Beach, Calif.) and Ajaccio fell to Lyon, 26-24, 25-12, 25-18 on Nov. 28. Watten led his team with 26 receptions, 77 percent positive. Ajaccio is in third place in the league with a 5-3 record.

Taylor Crabb (Honolulu, Hawaii) started the final three sets and scored nine points as his French team Sete defeated Chaumont, 15-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-18 on Nov. 29. Crabb scored on eight kills and one ace. He was credited with 17 receptions, 82 percent positive. Sete improved to 5-3 and is in fourth place in the league.

Middle blockers David Smith (Saugus, Calif.), Dan McDonnell (Glendale, Ariz.) and their French team Tours fell to AS Cannes, 25-20, 15-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-12 on Nov. 28. Smith scored eight points on three kills and a team-high five blocks. McDonnell scored six points on four attacks and two aces. Tours’ record is 5-4 and it is in fifth place.

Outside hitter Connor Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.) started the first two sets and scored four points on four kills as Montpellier fell to Paris, 25-22, 25-19, 25-19. Montpellier is in ninth place in the league with a 5-3 record.

Outside hitter Jeremy Dejno (New Berlin, Wis.) started the first set and scored two points on one block and one ace as Narbonne defeated Tourcoing, 25-18, 25-14, 30-28 on Nov. 29. Narbonne is in 11th place in the league with a 2-6 record.

U.S. opposite Brook Billings (Santa Barbara, Calif.) led all scorers with 22 points, but it was not enough to get his French B League team Rennes past Cambrai. Rennes fell 22-25, 27-25, 25-21, 25-21 on Nov. 29. Billings scored on 21 kills and one ace. Rennes is in fourth place in the league with 5-3 record.

RUSSIA

Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) is back on the court for Dinamo Moscow and scored four points on three kills and one block in a 21-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-22 win over Fakel Novy Urengoy on Nov. 29. Moscow is in second place in the league with a 10-2 record.

CEV Champions League

Here are upcoming Champions League matches that are being live streamed:

Hypo Tirol Innsbruck (Andy Hein) vs. PGE Skra Belchatow
Dec. 2 at 11:25 a.m. PT
http://www.laola1.tv/en-int/live/hypo-tirol-innsbruck-pge-skra-belchatow/241493.html

Noliko Maaseik vs. Sir Safety Perugia (Joe Sunder)
Dec. 2 at 11:30 a.m. PT
http://www.laola1.tv/en-int/live/noliko-maaseik-sir-safety-perugia/241495.html

Jastrzebski Wegiel vs. Lokomotiv Novosibirsk (David Lee)
Dec. 3 at 9 a.m. PT
http://www.laola1.tv/en-int/live/motw-jastrzebski-wegiel-lokomotiv-novosibirsk/241505.html

VfB Friedrichshafen (Nick Vogel) vs. Olympiacos Piraeus (Carson Clark)
Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. PT
http://www.laola1.tv/en-int/live/vfb-friedrichshafen-olympiacos-piraeus/241512.html

Tours (David Smith and Dan McDonnell) vs. Halkbank Ankara
Dec. 3 at 11:30 a.m. PT
http://www.laola1.tv/en-int/live/tours-vb-halkbank-ankara/241498.html

Asseco Resovia Rzeszow (Paul Lotman and Russell Holmes) vs. Berlin Recycling Volleys (Scott Touzinsky, Kawika Shoji and Erik Shoji)
Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. PT
http://www.laola1.tv/en-int/live/asseco-resovia-rzeszow-berlin-recycling-volleys/241516.html

Ajaccio (Dustin Watten) vs. Arkas Izmir
Dec. 4 at 11:15 a.m. PT
http://www.laola1.tv/en-int/live/gfc-ajaccio-vb-arkas-izmir/267211.html