COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 22, 2017) – A new Olympic quadrennial brings new players into the spotlight for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it looks forward to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Middle blocker Jeff Jendryk, 21, of Wheaton, Ill., is in his junior season at Loyola, but has already competed on two U.S. Men’s Pan American Cup teams (2015 and ’16). He was also on the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team in 2014 and ’15. In 2015, he was named the AVCA Newcomer of the Year while also winning the NCAA Men’s Division I Volleyball Championship with the Ramblers.
Q: What were your thoughts as you watched the 2016 Olympic tournament?
A: My first thoughts of watching the Olympics was seeing my former Loyola teammate Thomas Jaeschke represent Team USA. I was really excited for him and I was grateful as well because he had a huge impact on me. My other thoughts were that watching USA battle it out on the court gave me motivation to get better so I could have an opportunity of making the Olympic Team in the future.
Q: How are you feeling about your progress as a middle blocker while at Loyola? How has training in Anaheim helped?
A: I think that I have progressed very well since being here at Loyola. I am still currently working on getting better and refining some of my techniques. I am very optimistic on being the best player that I can be and that can only be achieved through hard work. Training in Anaheim has help me because I have learned that the pace of the game just keeps getting faster and the goal is to try to find ways to slow it down and make it easier. So, coming back to Loyola, I have found opportunities during plays to slow the game down and make it easier for myself as well as my teammates.
Q: What are you enjoying about playing for Loyola this season? What have some of the challenges been?
A: I am enjoying every moment of it. There isn’t a day where I feel unsatisfied playing volleyball. A challenge that I face is having to be able to balance my social life, academic life, and my volleyball life.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t practicing or playing volleyball?
A: I enjoy hanging out with my friends with the free time that I have, but If I feel like having a lazy day where I can relax, I would play some video games. I am pretty good at any Call of Duty game.
Q: What are you looking forward to in 2017?
A: I am looking forward in 2017 to finishing my volleyball season at Loyola with a National Championship. After finishing my junior year at Loyola, I will be focused on going to Anaheim and working hard with the National Team where I can get better and create some really cool experiences. I am also really excited to be out in California where the weather is amazing and where I can go to the beach.
In the first match of the league semifinals, setter Micah Christenson and Cucine Lube Civitanova beat middle blocker Max Holt and Azimut Modena, 25-22, 22-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-11 on March 19. Christenson scored five points on three kills and two blocks. He set his team to a .388 hitting efficiency. Holt scored 12 points on six kills, a match-high five blocks and one ace. The teams will play again on March 26.
Outside hitter Aaron Russell and Sir Safety Conad Perugia fell to Diatec Trentino in their first semifinal match, 16-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-22 on March 19. Russell scored nine points on eight kills and one ace. He was credited with 11 receptions, 55 percent positive.
Russell injured his ankle during a team practice on March 21. The extent of the injury is not known, but he is not expected to compete in the next semifinal match on March 25.
In the playoff for the bottom four finishing teams, setter James Shaw, middle blocker Taylor Averill and Kioene Padova fell to Biosi Indexa Sora, two matches to one. After Padova won the first match, Sora took the second match, 25-20, 22-25, 23-25, 26-24, 15-11 on March 19. Averill started the first three sets and scored two points on one kill and one block. Shaw started the third set and played as a substitute. He scored two points on one kill and one ace.
In the tiebreaker, Sora beat host Padova, 25-19, 25-23, 25-23. Shaw started the second and third sets and scored one point on one kill. He helped set Padova to a .296 hitting efficiency. Averill scored nine points on five kills and a match-high four blocks.
Libero Erik Shoji, setter Kawika Shoji and Lokomotiv Novosibirsk beat Dinamo-Lo, 25-15, 25-18, 25-23 on March 18. Erik Shoji was credited with 11 receptions, 45 percent positive. Kawika Shoji scored five points on two kills and three aces. He set his team to a .542 hitting efficiency. Novosibirsk was in third place in the league.
Middle blocker David Smith, libero Dustin Watten and Cerrad Czarni Radom fell to GKS Katowice, 26-24, 25-14, 18-25, 23-25, 24-22 on March 17. Watten was credited with 31 receptions, 42 percent positive. Smith started the first two set and scored two points on two kills. Radom is in eighth place in the league.
Setter Jonah Seif, outside hitter Kyle Russell and MKS Będzin fell to ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle, 28-30, 25-18, 25-23, 27-25 on March 19. Both U.S. athletes played as substitutes. Bedzin is in 11th place in the league.
Shanghai beat outside hitter Taylor Sander and Beijing in the league finals, three matches to one.
Middle blocker Russell Holmes made his debut with Paris in a 25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 25-16 loss to Toulouse on March 18. Holmes started all four sets and scored seven points on four kills and three blocks.
On March 21, Paris fell to Nice, 19-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-23. Holmes scored six points on three kills and three blocks. Paris is in fourth place in the league at 12-9 with one match to go on March 24.
Middle blocker Dan McDonnell and Chaumont fell to Nantes Reze on March 18, 25-20, 26-24, 23-25, 26-24. McDonnell scored eight points on six kills and two aces.
On March 21, Chaumont beat Tours, 21-25, 20-25, 29-27, 25-17, 15-11. McDonnell scored nine points on six kills, one block and two aces. Chaumont is in second place in the league at 16-5.
Americans Michael Brinkley, Scott Kevorken, Cody Kessel and Eric Fitterer and their team Luneburg are 1-1 in the best-of-three playoff series they are playinainst Duren. On March 19, Duren beat Luneburg, 20-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-15, 15-13. Opposite Fitterer led his team with 17 points on 14 kills, two blocks and one ace. Outside hitter Kessel added 15 points on 14 kills and one block. He was credited with 43 receptions, 53 percent positive. Middle blocker Kevorken totaled nine points on seven kills and two blocks. Libero Brinkley was credited with 33 receptions, 48 percent positive.
On March 22, Luneburg came back to beat Duren, 25-23, 25-19, 25-21. Fitterer led all scorers with 21 points on 15 kills, four blocks and a match-high two aces. Kessel added 14 points on 11 kills and three blocks. He was credited with 20 receptions, 75 percent positive. Kevorken totaled six points on three kills, two blocks and one ace. Brinkley was credited with 34 receptions, 71 percent positive.
The teams will play the tiebreaker on March 29.
CEV CHAMPIONS CUP
Matt Anderson, who plays outside hitter for Russia’s Zenit Kazan, and his team have advanced to the six-team Champions Cup playoff where they will face fellow Russian team Belogorie Belgorod. On March 22 Kazan won its second playoff match against Belgium’s Knack Roeselare, 25-19, 25-16, 25-20. Anderson scored 10 points on 10 kills and was credited with 16 receptions, 50 percent positive.
Micah Christenson and Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova also advanced to the next round, although they went 1-1 against Poland’s PGE Skra Belchatow. On March 22, Belchatow beat Civitanova, 24-26, 16-25, 28-26, 25-15, 15-13. Christenson started the first two sets and scored three points on two kills and one block. Because they won the previous match over Belchatow, 3-1, Civitanova only needed to win the first two sets of the second match to advance.