Lausanne, Switzerland, June 19, 2020 – Star outside hitter Aaron Russell is set to play for a third Italian team after signing with Gas Sales Piacenza for the 2020-2021 club season.
The 2.05m-tall Russell enjoyed great success in the country with Sir Safety Conad Perugia, the club he played for between 2015 and 2018, and helped to victory in the Italian League, the Super Cup, and the Italian Cup in the 2017-2018 season.
He spent the next two seasons with Itac Trentino and was a key part in the team’s triumphs in the 2018-2019 CEV Cup and the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship, where he was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Russell has also had a prolific career with the United States men’s national team, which he joined in 2015, the same year the team took gold at the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup. The outside hitter was also with the squad during their bronze medal campaigns at the Rio 2016 Olympics, the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship and the 2019 World Cup. In the last couple of seasons, he helped the Americans secure bronze and silver medals from the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
Two other members of the roster that secured bronze for the Americans four years ago in Rio also moved clubs in the last few days. Veteran middle blocker Max Holt will now play for Vero Volley Monza after spending the last four seasons with Leo Shoes Modena. The 32-year-old player, who was the best middle blocker of last year’s World Cup, has also played for Calzedonia Verona and Volley Piacenza in Italy, besides defending Russia’s Dynamo Moscow between 2013 and 2016.
“Monza was an easy choice for me,” Holt said about the move. “I wanted to stay in Italy and I’ve heard only great things about the club. We’ll be a team that will fight for each point, from the beginning to the end of every match.”
Kawika Shoji will also feature in the Italian League next season as he agreed on a contract with Pallavollo Padova for 2020-2021. The 32-year-old setter will return to the country for the first time since 2017-2018, when he left Monza to play for Poland’s Asseco Resowia, his most recent club. The Hawaiian has also played in Russia, Turkey, Germany and Finland.
“I am very happy to return to Italy,” Shoji commented. “I know it’s a very strong league and I really enjoyed my time with Monza and the Italian culture. It will be a season with a lot of challenges but I think the motivation of having a new roster will push us forward as we want to play the best volleyball we can.”
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