Men's Update: Champions League Reaches Semis

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | April 12, 2018, 8:27 p.m. (ET)
Taylor Sander and Micah Christenson celebrate a great play in Italy
Taylor Sander, left, and Micah Christenson celebrate with their Italian team.


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 12, 2018)
– Three teams with U.S. Men’s National Team players will compete in the semifinals of the CEV Champions League on May 12 in Kazan, Russia.

Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova, including setter Micah Christenson and outside hitter Taylor Sander, will play Poland’s Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle in the first semifinal.

Outside hitter Aaron Russell, setter James Shaw and Italy’s Sir Safety Perugia will play outside hitter Matt Anderson and Russia’s Zenit Kazan in the second semifinal.

The medal matches will be played May 13 in Kazan.

To reach the semifinals, Perugia beat Russia’s Lokomotiv Novosibirsk in the Round of 6.

On April 11, Perugia won the two sets it needed to advance, even though it lost to Novosibirsk, 20-25, 25-22, 17-25, 25-21, 15-11. Russell started the first four sets and scored 10 points on nine kills and one ace. Shaw played as a substitute and started the fifth set, scoring one point on a kill.

Also on April 11, Civitanova got its second win over Italy’s Diatec Trentino, 25-19, 25-21, 20-25, 25-27, 17-15. Christenson started the first two sets and scored one point on a block. Sander started the first two sets and scored eight points on five kills and a match-high three aces.

Anderson and three-time defending champion Kazan did not have to play in the Round of 6 because they are the hosts, although after winning their pool without a loss, chances are good they would have advanced anyway.

You can watch Champions League matches live and on demand at laola1.tv.

VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE

Tickets are now on sale to see the U.S. Men play Serbia, Poland and Iran in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League on June 15-17 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. To purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.

MPSF HONORS

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) honored several players with ties to USA Volleyball for the 2018 season.

Pepperdine outside hitter David Wieczorek, a red shirt junior, was named MPSF Player of the Year. Wieczorek is one of two outside hitters listed in the MPSF’s top 15 in both hitting percentage (.358) and kill average (3.94 kills per set). Wieczorek played for the United States in the 2017 Pan American Cup.

Wieczorek was named All-MPSF First-Team as were BYU senior outside hitter Brenden Sander, BYU senior middle blocker Price Jarman and UCLA outside hitter Jake Arnitz, all of whom played on the Pan Am Cup team. UCLA junior setter Micah Ma’a, who played on U.S. youth and junior teams and Stanford freshman opposite Jaylen Jasper, who played on the U.S. Boys’ Youth Team, also made the MPSF First Team.

Stanford senior libero Evan Enriques, who played on the Pan Am Cup Team, was named All-MPSF Second-Team.

Jasper, Stanford middle blocker Kyler Presho, USC middle blocker Sam Lewis and USC libero Cole Paxson, who all played on the 2017 U.S. Boys’ Youth Team, were all named to the MPSF All-Freshman Team.

UCLA junior outside hitter Dylan Missry and Stanford senior middle blocker Kevin Rakestraw were both named All-MPSF Second-Team. Both played on the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team.

To see the full list, click here.

Pauley Pavilion, home of the sky hook since ‘67 #KAREEEM

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ARGENTINA

Middle blocker David Lee and UPCN San Juan won Argentina’s league, 3-1 over Personal Bolívar. San Juan won its final match on April 7, 25-19, 25-19, 25-14. Lee scored seven points on three kills, two blocks and two aces.

ITALY

Russell, Shaw and Perugia have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five semifinal series over Diatec Trentino, with each team having won its home match(es). The next match will be April 15 in Trentino.

In the third match on April 8 in Perugia, the home team won, 25-27, 25-13, 21-25, 25-17, 15-13. Russell scored 21 points on a match-high 19 kills (.586 efficiency), one ace and one block. He was credited with 21 receptions, 43 percent positive. Shaw played as a substitute.

A similar scenario has played out in the other semi series between Civitanova, including Sander and Christenson, and middle blocker Max Holt and Azimut Modena. Civitanova leads the series 2-1, with each team winning its home matches.

In the third match on April 8, Civitanova won, 27-25, 33-35, 25-16, 22-25, 21-19. Sander scored 20 points on 19 kills and one ace. He was credited with 30 receptions, 73 percent positive. Christenson scored five points on three blocks, one kill and one ace. He set the team to a .516 efficiency.

Holt scored eight points on six kills (.550 efficiency), one block and one ace.

Among the teams battling for fifth place in the league, it will be brother vs. brother in the semifinals as libero Erik Shoji and Taiwan Excellence Latina will play setter Kawika Shoji, outside hitter Jake Langlois and Gi Group Monza starting on April 15.

Monza eliminated Wixo PR Piacenza in the quarterfinals, 2-0. In the second match on April 7, visiting Monza won, 15-25, 25-19, 25-21, 20-25, 15-7. Shoji started the first three sets and scored one point on a kill. He helped set Monza to a .381 efficiency. Langlois started the final two sets and scored seven points on four aces and three kills. He was credited with 15 receptions, 27 percent positive.

Erik Shoji and Latina eliminated middle blocker Taylor Averill and Revivre Milano, 2-0. In the second match on April 8, visiting Latina won, 25-22, 25-23, 25-22. Shoji was credited with 10 receptions, 60 percent positive. Averill did not play.

In the other semifinal, outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke and Calzedonia Verona will face Kioene Padova.

In the quarterfinals, Verona eliminated opposite Ben Patch and Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia, 2-0. In the second match on April 7, Jaeschke scored 11 points on seven kills and two blocks. He was credited with 23 receptions, 43 percent positive. Patch scored 12 points on 11 kills and one block.

Starting a short vacation in Florence. Making the most of a random wall

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POLAND

Polish teams will play the final matches of the regular season this weekend.

Middle blocker Dan McDonnell and Trefl Gdańsk go into the final match in third place.

Libero Dustin Watten and Cerrad Czarni Radom go into the final match in eighth place. On April 4, Radom defeated Łuczniczka Bydgoszc, 25-20, 31-29, 25-20. Watten was credited with 26 receptions, 38 percent positive.

Middle blocker David Smith and Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie go into the final weekend in 11th place. On April 9, Zawiercie beat Dafi Społem Kielce, 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 25-20. Smith scored nine points on eight kills (.538 percentage) and one block.

Setter Jonah Seif and MKS Będzin are in 13th place. Będzin fell to Asseco Resovia Rzeszów, 26-28, 25-23, 25-19, 25-16 on April 8. Seif started the first three sets and scored four points on four kills. He helped set the team to a .324 efficiency.

RUSSIA

Anderson and Kazan are 2-0 against Kusbass Kemerovo in the league semifinal series. On April 6, Kazan beat Kemerovo, 21-25, 25-10, 23-25, 25-22, 15-10. Anderson scored 12 points on 10 kills (.526 efficiency) and two aces. He was credited with 29 receptions, 28 percent positive.

FRANCE

Middle blocker Mitch Stahl and Paris won their first quarterfinal playoff match against Montpellier, 21-25, 28-26, 21-25, 25-22, 15-13 on April 7. Stahl started the first three sets and scored four points on three kills and one block.

Setter Michael Saeta and Chaumont fell to Tourcoing in their first quarterfinal, 25-27, 25-21, 25-19, 17-25, 15-9. Saeta started the final two sets and scored seven points on a match-high five aces and two kills.

GERMANY

Outside hitter Kyle Russell and the Berlin Recycling Volleys won their playoff series against Lüneburg with a 25-23, 25-20, 25-22 win on April 8. Russell played as a substitute. American outside hitter Cody Kessel, who played for Lüneburg, scored 12 points on 10 kills and two blocks. He was credited with 29 receptions, 34 percent positive.