COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 13, 2021) – Outside hitter Aaron Russell (above) led all scorers with 22 points and was named match MVP in Italy as Gas Sales Bluenergy Pianceza defeated outside hitter T.J. DeFalco and Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia, 3-1 (22-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-22) on Jan. 9.
Russell scored on 20 kills and had no hitting errors for a .741 hitting efficiency. He also had one block and one ace. DeFalco scored 15 points on 14 kills and one block.
Three days later, Russell and Piacenza fell to setter Micah Christenson and Leo Shoes Modena, 3-0 (35-33, 25-15, 25-22) on Jan. 12. Russell led his team with 14 points on 11 kills, two blocks and one ace. Christenson scored two points on a kill and an ace and set Modena to a .482 hitting efficiency.
Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke and NBV Verona beat Top Volley Cisterna, 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-23) on Jan. 10. Jaeschke scored 15 points on 13 kills (.444) and two blocks.
Setter Kawika Shoji and Kioene Padova fell to Itas Trentino, 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 35-33) on Jan. 13. Shoji scored three points on one kill, one block and one ace. He set Padova to a .443 hitting efficiency.
On the women’s side, U.S. setter Micha Hancock and Igor Gorgonzola Novara beat Bosca S.Bernardo Cuneo, 3-1 (23-25, 25-16, 30-28, 25-14) on Jan. 10. Hancock scored eight points on four kills, two blocks and two aces. She set Novara to a .533 hitting efficiency. Middle blocker Haleigh Washington is also on Novara’s roster but did not play in the match.
Megan Courtney, who plays outside hitter for Savino Del Bene Scandicci led her team to a 3-1 (25-18, 17-25, 25-22, 25-21) win over Vbc Èpiù Casalmaggiore on Jan. 9. Courtney scored 19 points on 16 kills and three blocks.
Setter Jordyn Poulter and Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio took a 3-1 (25-18, 25-23, 23-25, 25-21) over Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia on Jan. 10. Poulter scored one point on a kill and set her team to a .358 hitting efficiency.
Outside hitter Jordan Larson finished 2020 with the bronze medal from the Chinese women’s league. Larson and Shanghai Guangming Youbei beat Guangdong Evergrande two matches to zero to take third. Outside hitter Kelsey Robinson played for Guandong Evergrande, but did not compete in the bronze medal matches due to injury.
The start of the regular season in Japan has been delayed. However opposite Annie Drews and her team JT Marvelous won the Empress Cup at the end of 2020 and Drews was named MVP. JT Marvelous beat the league-leading Toray Arrows 3-0 in the final.
The French men’s league is not scheduled to restart until Jan. 22. Middle blocker Taylor Averill who plays for Cannes was voted MVP of the first half of the season by the league’s fans.
A translated article reads in part: In three months of competition, the American central put on a great show, also driven by the desire and the personal challenge to find a place in the American roster for the Tokyo Olympics. In his image: offbeat look, amazing human wealth and inspiring personality, Taylor rallied supporters and votes, at the same time as he made an almost perfect copy in this first half of the season. The man is not in the artifice. With Taylor, it's unvarnished, natural and deep. “He plays as he is in life and he is in life as he plays,” says his coach, Luc Marquet.
Middle blocker David Smith and Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle improved to 17-0 with a 25-19, 25-14, 25-17 win over outside hitter Brenden Sander and Cerrad Enea Czarni Radom (6-14) on Jan. 13. Smith scored four points on two kills, one block and one ace. Sander started the first set and scored one point on one kill.
Outside hitter Taylor Sander scored 20 points for PGE Skra Bełchatów, but it wasn’t enough for a victory as middle blocker Jeff Jendryk and Asseco Resovia Rzeszów won 3-2 (25-17, 25-16, 16-25, 23-25, 15-11) on Jan. 13.
Sander scored on 14 kills, four blocks and two aces. Jendryk totaled 12 points on 10 kills and two blocks.
Turkey’s regular season does not start until Jan. 23. Until then, teams are playing makeup matches for those missed due to COVID last year.
In TurkeyEczacıbaşı VitrA beat Sistem9 Yeşilyurt, 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-20) on Jan. 13. Outside hitter Jordan Thompson scored five points on three kills, one block and one ace. Chiaka Ogbogu was on the roster for TurkeyEczacıbaşı VitrA but did not play.
Libero Erik Shoji and Fakel Novy Urengoy fell to Ural Ufa, 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-23). Shoji was credited with 20 receptions, 55 percent positive.
U.S. opposite Kelsie Payne scored 49 points for her team Korea Expressway Corporation Hi-pass in its 3-2 (23-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-15, 22-20) loss to the Heungkuk Life Insurance Pink Spiders on Jan. 13. Payne scored on 47 kills and two blocks.
Middle blocker Mitch Stahl and VC Greenyard Maasiek beat middle blocker George Huhmann and Knack Roeselare, 3-1 (26-28, 25-21, 25-18, 25-20) on Jan. 9. Stahl scored 10 points on six kills and four blocks. Huhmann started the first and fourth sets and scored four points on three kills and one block.