|From left, Kawika Shoji, Jeff Jendryk and T.J. DeFalco block during a 2017 FIVB World League match against Belgium.|
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 5, 2018) – While most U.S. Men’s National Team players continue to compete overseas, those in the college ranks are battling for a spot in the NCAA Men’s Division I-II Volleyball Championships.
The leader of the pack is Long Beach State University with outside hitter T.J. DeFalco who played for the 2017 National Team at the FIVB World League and the USAV Cup. LBSU, which is coached by former National Team Head Coach Alan Knipe, is undefeated at 21-0 overall and 6-0 in the Big West Conference. The Beach is ranked No. 1 in the AVCA’s poll.
DeFalco was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week, for the second time this season, on April 2. He totaled 22 kills against now No. 3 UC Irvine on March 30 and 19 on March 31. He also had 15 digs (1.67 per set), six aces (0.67 per set), and 10 total blocks (1.11 per set) over the two matches. DeFalco finished the week hitting .329.
DeFalco is the team’s leading scorer with 314.5 points on 254 kills, 37 aces, six solo blocks and 35 block assists. Right behind him is opposite Kyle Ensing with 298.5 points on 249 kills, 20 aces, one solo block and 57 block assists. Ensing played on the 2017 U.S. Pan American Cup Team and on the Men’s Junior National Team. LBSU setter Josh Tuaniga, who has played on U.S. Youth and Junior National Teams, is fourth among NCAA DI-II setter with an average of 10.66 assists per set.
Middle blocker Jeff Jendryk, who played for the U.S. Men at World League, USAV Cup and the FIVB Grand Champions Cup, and No. 8 Loyola of Chicago are tied with No. 7 Ohio State for the lead in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. The Ramblers are 20-5 overall and 10-2 in the MIVA. Jendryk, a senior, is the team’s second-leading scorer with 274.5 points on 213 kills, 15 aces, 13 solo blocks and 67 block assists.
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.
The Italian league is in the thick of the playoff semifinals. Outside hitter Aaron Russell, setter James Shaw and Sir Safety Conad Perugia are 1-1 with Diatec Trentino. Russell came back from injury to start the final four sets for Perugia in a 26-24, 13-25, 19-25, 25-23, 15-10 loss on April 1. He scored 13 points on 11 kills (.588 efficiency) and two aces. Shaw played as a substitute.
Middle blocker Max Holt and Azimut Modena are 1-1 with setter Micah Christenson, outside hitter Taylor Sander and Cucine Lube Civitanova. On April 1, Modena defeated Civitanova, 25-16, 29-27, 22-25, 25-23. Holt scored seven points on five kills and two aces. Christenson scored three points on three kills and set Civitanova to a .551 hitting efficiency. Sander played as a substitute and scored three points on two kills and one block.
The semifinals are best-of-five.
Meanwhile, teams that lost in the playoff quarterfinals are now part of the competition for fifth place. Those quarterfinals began March 31.
Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke and Calzedonia Verona defeated opposite Ben Patch and Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-19. Jaeschke scored 14 points on seven kills, four blocks and three aces. He was credited with 20 receptions, 60 percent positive. Patch led Valentia with 20 points on 16 kills, three blocks and one ace.
Libero Erik Shoji and Taiwan Excellence Latina beat middle blocker Taylor Averill and Revivre Milano, 25-11, 21-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-11 on March 31. Shoji was credited with 11 receptions, 45 percent positive. Averill scored 14 points on nine kills (.690 efficiency), four blocks and one ace.
Setter Kawika Shoji, outside hitter Jake Langlois and Gi Group Monza beat Wixo LPR Piacenza, 25-17, 19-25, 25-23, 27-25. Shoji scored six points on a match-high six aces and set Monza to a .459 hitting efficiency.
Middle blocker Dan McDonnelland Trefl Gdańsk beat libero Dustin Watten and Cerrad Czarni Radom, 25-21, 25-16, 25-16 on March 29. McDonnell scored 10 points on nine kills (.820 efficiency) and one block. Watten was credited with 22 receptions, 59 percent positive.
Middle blocker David Smith and Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie fell to Espadon Szczecin, 33-31, 24-26, 25-21, 25-23 on March 30. Smith scored 16 points on 13 kills (.720 efficiency) and three blocks. American outside hitter Jeff Menzel played as a substitute for Szczecin and scored three points on three kills.
Setter Jonah Seif and MKS Będzin fell to Jastrzębski Węgiel, 25-16, 25-21, 25-20 on March 30. Seif played as a substitute and scored three points on two blocks and one kill.
Outside hitter Matt Anderson and Zenit Kazan won their first semifinal match against Kuzbass Kemerovo, 25-16, 25-20, 25-12 on March 31. Anderson scored nine points on eight kills and one ace. He was credited with 15 receptions, 60 percent positive.
Outside hitter Kyle Russell and the Berlin Recycling Volleys are 1-1 with Luneburg in the German league quarterfinals. On March 31, Luneburg beat Berlin, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 27-25. Russell played as a substitute and scored one point on a kill. American outside hitter Cody Kessel scored 17 points for Luneburg on 14 kills (.520 efficiency), two blocks and one ace. He was credited with 35 receptions, 51 percent positive.
Middle blocker David Lee and UPCN San Juan Voley Club is 2-1 with Personal Bolivar in the league playoff finals.
On April 5, Lee scored nine points on seven kills (.700) and two blocks as San Juan defeated Bolivar, 25-22, 25-20, 25-17.
CEV CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Russell, Shaw and Perugia won their first-round match in the six-team playoff of the CEV Champions League as did Christenson, Sander and Civitanova.
Perugia beat Russia’s Lokomotiv Novovsibirsk, 24-26, 25-15, 25-19, 25-21 on March 4. Russell scored 14 points on 12 kills, one block and one ace. He was credited with 17 receptions, 41 percent positive. Shaw played as a substitute.
Civitanova defeated Italy’s Diatec Trentino, 25-22, 23-25, 25-19, 28-26 on April 4. Sander scored nine points on eight kills and one ace. Christenson scored three points on two kills and one ace. He set Civitanova to a .479 hitting efficiency.