Men's Update: Heavy Medals

By BJ Evans | March 31, 2015, 6:33 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 31, 2015) – Teams with U.S. men’s players took gold, silver and bronze in the finals of the CEV Champions League, which were held in Berlin on March 28-29.

Zenit Kazan with Matt Anderson
   Matt Anderson, middle row, right, celebrates with Zenit Kazan.

U.S. outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) and his Russian team Zenit Kazan won the Champions League title, defeating Poland’s Asseco Resovia Rzeszow, with middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and outside hitter Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.), 25-22, 25-23, 25-21 in the final. After a rough performance in the semifinals, Anderson was brought into the first set of the final and then started the second and third. He scored 13 points on 11 kills, one block and one ace in the gold medal match. He was credited with 21 receptions, 48 percent positive. Holmes scored four points on three blocks and one kill for Rzeszow. Lotman played as a substitute and scored one point with a kill.

Germany’s Berlin Recycling Volleys, which includes libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii), setter Kawika Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) and outside hitter Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.), took the bronze medal, defeating Poland’s PGE Skra Belchatow in the third-place match, 25-21, 19-25, 25-20, 26-28, 23-21. Touzinsky scored 13 points on 12 kills and one ace. He was credited with 29 receptions, 72 percent positive. Kawika Shoji scored two points on a kill and a block and set Berlin to a .419 hitting efficiency.

“The USA is one of the best countries for volleyball,” Touzinsky told Polish volleyball commentator Natalia Chinalska (@NatChnlsk). “We have such a great group of guys coming up. Our national team is phenomenal. We have the most unbelievable coaching staff and it was awesome to be able to play in that atmosphere for six years and at the Olympics.

“Hopefully with having so many Americans at this event, volleyball will continue to get bigger and bigger in the United States because it’s getting there. It’s just very difficult to get the funding, but it’s going to take time. Moving the team to California was probably one of the best things we could do, so hopefully it can continue to grow. The kids are starting to play a lot more which is fantastic. Hopefully we can get a professional league out there one day. That would be awesome.”

Touzinsky, who serves as Berlin’s team captain, received the Fair Play award.

In the semifinals, Kazan defeated Berlin, 26-24, 21-25, 25-22, 25-15 while Rzeszow beat Belchatow, 25-23, 25-23, 25-22.

After the semifinals, Kawika Shoji thanked the U.S. fans who support men’s players: “I know a lot of people in the States and within USA Volleyball are watching and supporting our players, so I just want to tell them, ‘thank you so much.’ We gave 100 percent to represent America, as best as we could and I think we did a good job, Scotty, Eric, me and Matty, we played as hard as we could for the people back home”

Watch replays and highlights of the matches at laola1.tv.

INTERVIEW WITH ANDERSON

Polish volleyball commentator Zuzanna Dulnik (@ZetDe04) got an interview with Matt Anderson following Kazan’s Champions League victory.

On the team’s victory: This gold, it's a huge accomplishment. I've been trying to win it for the last three years. Luckily, I was able to play for this team. They brought me back to win the Champions League. We put a lot of training for a couple of months and I think this compensates for our work and everything that we did for each other.

On team's performance in both matches: Our first match was difficult. We didn't play like we’re used to; not how we wanted to play. In the final, we served tough, we played block and defense, so we were able to score, but it was not an easy match to win. Resovia is a very good team, but we put on a lot of pressure with our serve. They are used to play fast ball, so with the pressure from our side they could not be that comfortable.

On the personal performance: I'm not happy with the way I played in the semifinal, but I turned around from this match and played more free. That was the last match here, there was nothing we could do after this game, so I played my best.

On playing against the teammates from the U.S. team: In this moment, I'm not playing for the national team, but it is always somewhere at the back of my mind and I know these experiences can benefit us when we will be playing together in the summer.

The last time Zenit won the gold medal, Reid Priddy was in the squad. Do you think there is a place for more young American players in the Russian League as it was when in the past years? I think so, but it is a personal decision to be made by each player. It is a difficult life to live in Russia by yourself, especially for a non-Russian. This is something you have to get used to, because it is a sacrifice. On the other hand, wherever you play professionally, it will be always a sacrifice. But if you choose the place where your family and friends can come to see you, it will make it more comfortable for you.

To read another, longer interview with Anderson, visit cev.lu.

WORLD LEAGUE

The U.S. Men’s Volleyball Team, the 2014 FIVB World League champion, will begin defense of the title in Southern California and Hoffman Estates, Ill., this summer.

USA Volleyball will host Iran at the Galen Center in Los Angeles (May 30-31), Russia at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif. (June 5-6), and Poland at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. (June 12-13).
Galen Center Tickets | Walter Pyramid Tickets | Sears Centre Arena Tickets | USAV World League Page | FIVB World League Page 

CEV CUP

Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Russia’s host Dinamo Moscow have advanced to the finals of the CEV Cup where they will face Italy’s Energy TI Diatec Trentino in two matches. On March 28, Moscow won its second match over Belgium’s Volley behappy2 Asse-Lennik, 25-19, 27-25, 32-30. Holt scored 12 points on seven kills, a match-high four blocks and one ace. Moscow will play Trentino on April 7 in Italy and on April 11 in Russia.

POLAND

In the battle for fifth-eighth place, U.S. libero AJ Nally (Rochester, N.Y.) and Transfer Bydgoszcz lead AZS Politechnika Warszawska, 2-0 in matches. In the second match on March 27, Bydgoszcz defeated Warszawska, 25-18, 25-21, 25-21. Nally was credited with 17 receptions, 53 percent positive. Bydgoszcz will play for fifth place in the next round.

GERMANY

Middle blocker Scott Kevorken (Westlake Village, Calif.) and Lüneburg advanced to the league championship semifinals where they will play Middle blocker Nick Vogel (San Diego, Calif.) and Friedrichshafen in a best-of-five series starting on April 1. In the deciding match against Buhl on March 25, Lüneburg won 25-23, 25-22, 25-21. Kevorken scored eight points on seven kills and one block.

On the other side of the bracket, the Berlin Recycling Volleys with Touzinsky and the Shoji brothers will play SWD Powervolleys Düren starting on April 2.

FRANCE

On March 26, middle blockers David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) and Dan McDonnell (Glendale, Ariz.) and their French team Tours defeated outside hitter Connor Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Montpellier, 25-17, 25-23, 25-20. Smith scored seven points on four kills and three blocks. McDonnell added seven points on six kills and one block. Hughes started the third set but did not score. With one week left in the regular season, Tours is in fourth place in the league while Montpellier is 11th.

Libero Dustin Watten (Long Beach, Calif.) and Ajaccio fell to Chaumont on March 28, 25-18, 22-25, 25-19, 25-23. Watten was credited with 26 receptions, 65 percent positive. Ajaccio is in eighth place in the league.

ITALY

Outside hitter Taylor Sander(Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Calzedonia Verona fell to Parmareggio Modena, 25-23, 25-21, 25-17 on March 29. Sander started the first two sets and scored seven points on six kills and one ace. With one week left in the regular season, Verona is in fifth place in the league.

GREECE

Outside hitter Brian Cook(Santa Cruz, Calif.) and Panathinaikos defeated Ethnikos Alexandroupolis, 25-18- 25-19, 20-25, 25-18 on March 28. Cook scored 16 points on 14 kills, one block and one ace. Setter Chris Austin (Henderson, Nev.) was on the roster for Alexandroupolis, but did not play.