This is Blair Lambert’s VolleyballMag.com weekly men’s professional volleyball report, featuring Americans around the world. Got a note about a player or a comment for Blair? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Anderson took another step towards furthering his distance from the other American players as the the most decorated individual in the CEV Champions League. With the last matches of pool play all taking place Wednesday, Anderson helped Ziraat Bankasi claim first place in Pool A with seven kills, two blocks and two aces in a sweep of Olympiacos Piraeus. Ziraat is the only unbeaten team heading into playoffs.
That helped ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle, which needed a better result than Olympiacos, to finish second place in the pool and advance. Dave Smith, making his return from a calf injury, fhad six kills and three blocks as ZAKSA pulled off a reverse sweep against Knack Roeselare. Erik Shoji passed 44 percent positively and 28 percent perfectly.
Asseco Resovia Rzeszów handed Itas Trentino its first defeat of the tournament, but that was not enough to qualify for the playoffs after its loss to Tours last week. TJ DeFalco started the last three sets of the five-set win, finishing with 12 kills and two aces.
Halkbank Ankara needed five sets to beat winless Benfica, but that moved Micah Ma’a’s club ahead of Berlin Recycling Volleys and into second place in Pool C. Ma’a set Halkbank to a .388 hitting percentage and had a kill.
SVG Lüneburg started its first Champions League campaign with two straight wins, but that was followed by four consecutive losses and elimination. Matt Knigge had two kills and a block, while Gage Worsley put in a 38 and 15 percent passing performance in the sweep by Jastrzębski Węgiel.
Aleksandar Nikolov put away six kills and hit .182 for Lube Civitanova, who claimed first place in Pool E with a sweep over Greenyard Maaseik.
Aaron Russell had 27 kills, a block and an ace for JT Thunders Hiroshima in a win over JTEKT Stings and then had 20 kills, a block and an ace in another win over JTEKT the next day.
Thomas Jaeschke had 14 kills, three blocks,and an ace for the Panasonic Panthers in a win over the Tokyo Great Bears and the next day had 13 kills and a block in another win over the Great Bears.
The Nippon Steel Sakai Blazers lost twice to the Nagoya Wolfdogs last weekend. Cole Hogland Wantanabe produced four kills…