It was always the same procedure: When a BR Volleys game ended, Ruben Schott could hardly catch his breath, let alone take a sip, as all the press representatives rushed towards him.
This was certainly also due to his interesting thoughts on the game, but probably mainly because he was the only German player on the team alongside Georg Klein last season. Aside from Cody Kessel, most of the teammates couldn’t get beyond a few phrases.
That could change in the coming season: on the one hand because middle blocker Anton Brehme is returning and on the other hand because Volleys have signed the 25-year-old setter and German national player Johannes Tille. “We aim to sign German players. And even if there is possibly a foreign player in the position who is just as good, I would always prefer the change,” says managing director Kaweh Niroomand.
“It’s a great thing for us that Tille is coming.” It was clear early on that Volleys wanted to sign him. “You can tell he’s happy. He says it’s his dream to come to Berlin. He has a great character.”
The Bavarian last played in Herrsching in the Bundesliga before moving to France last season. He was very unlucky there: he had actually signed with the prospect of playing in the first division, but his club Saint-Nazaire missed out on promotion and so Tille instead played in Ligue B, in which he and his team won the championship .
“It was a mentally difficult year for me,” says Tille. “The environment wasn’t ideal, the city wasn’t particularly nice and half the games weren’t at the level I would have wished for either.” At least he’s learned to take responsibility and withstand the pressure of being a favourite.
Tille will need these newly acquired skills in Berlin, because setter and leading player Sergej Grankin recently said goodbye there. Actually, Tille was intended as a second player and successor to Matt West, but now the situation has changed fundamentally. “Grankin should share his experience,” says Niroomand. “That’s canceled now, we have to see how the successor situation develops. We hope to find an experienced man.”
Nevertheless, he emphasizes: “Tille is not a beginner either. He is quite capable of playing and designing a game from the start. He’s a seasoned setter who doesn’t need a lead.”
Coach Cédric Enard is also looking forward to the new signing: “He is one of the young German players of the next generation who have the potential to reach the highest level.” Tille will be able to prove that in the coming weeks when he joins takes part in the Nations League with the national team and travels to Canada for the opening tournament.
The Volleys are now faced with the challenge of signing another player. “It is very difficult to find someone who meets our requirements. That takes time,” says Niroomand. Because the footsteps left by the best setter in the league and Olympic champion are huge.
It was not certain for a long time that the Russian would leave the club, especially since his contract would not have expired until 2023. But Niroomand knows: “The weeks and months were not easy for Sergey.”
After all, his family still lives in Russia and since the start of the Russian war of aggression it has become increasingly difficult to keep in touch. “These are human moments. You can only work through them rationally from the outside, but they actually present themselves differently. There’s no point in insisting on the contract.”
And so it is quite conceivable that Tille will receive many assignments in the coming season and may even play in the Champions League. But one thing is already certain: Tille will score points in the interviews and will even be able to hold his own against Grankin. He always disappeared noticeably quickly when the last set was over and it was about his assessment of the game.