We locked our panel of volleyball experts in a dark room and told them they couldn’t come out until they slide a list of the Top 20 women’s players for 2015 under the door.
After a few sleepless nights they emerged with the inaugural ‘Volleyverse Women’s Top 20’. Did your favourite player make the cut? Which superstars were left out? And do you agree with our nomination for Player of the Year?
Check out our list of last year’s top women’s players & don’t forget to cast your vote for your Player Of The Year below the list
20 / 20: Brankica Mihajlovic
Mihailovic had a breakout year in 2015. She was the leader of the Serbian national team as they finished runners-up at the FIVB women’s World Cup, winning the best outside/wing spiker of the tournament. The wing spiker also played a key role as Serbia claimed the bronze medal at the European Championship. Now with European powerhouse Fenerbahce Grundig, the sky is the limit for this 24-year-old.
19 / 20 : Foluke Akinradewo
Since the beginning of the last Olympic cycle, Akinradewo has been seen as one of the best middles in the world. Year after year, this fast, smart player is a model of consistency and quality for both her club (Swiss Volero Zurich) and Team USA. The 2015 season was no different for this outstanding player.
18 / 20 : Maret Balkestein-Grothues
The Netherlands captain made a successful return from an achilles injury in 2015, proving she remains a world-class player and has plenty more to give to the sport at age 27.
17 / 20 : Maja Poljak
The Croatian veteran remains a powerful force at age 32. She had a solid campaign in 2015 and remains a key figure for Turkish heavyweights Eczacibasi Vitra Istanbul.
16 / 20 : Milena Rasic
The towering middle blocker was a big part of Serbia’s success in 2015 as they picked up the silver medal at the FIVB Women’s World Cup and bronze at EuroVolley.
15 / 20 : Lonneke Sloetjes
This Dutch sensation has simply subbed in twice Olympic champion Brazil’s Sheilla Castro on their club, VakifBank Istanbul. Before that, Sloetjes led the Netherlands to a silver medal at the 2015 European Championship. Quite a season for this opposite who recently turned 25.
[tps_title]14 / 20 : Silvija Popovic[/tps_title]
It was a busy year for this classy libero. She remains a member of Serbia’s squad but her highlight came in the 2015 FIVB Women’s World Club Championship where she won Best Libero for her Swiss club Volero Zurich.
[tps_title]13 / 20 : Brenda Castillo[/tps_title]
This petit Dominican is fantastic. The Dominicans had a bad season in 2015, following a successful 2014, when they placed fifth at the World Championship but the popular Castillo kept up her great performances. She was best libero at the FIVB women’s World Cup.
[tps_title]12 / 20 : Karsta Lowe[/tps_title]
This charismatic Californian started the year as a rising star and ended it as one of the premier players in the women’s game. In her first full year in the national team, the 22-year-old won the MVP award at the 2015 World Grand Prix and followed up with an impressive performance in Team USA’s triumphant FIVB women’s World Cup campaign.
[tps_title]11 / 20 : Christa Harmotto-Dietzen[/tps_title]
Middle blocker Harmotto-Dietzen is one of the towers that make Team USA opponents fear the reigning world champions. In 2015, her skills caught the attention from one of a rival club. Still in Turkey, she moved from Eczacibasi Vitra to Fenerbahce.
[tps_title]10 / 20 : Camila Brait[/tps_title]
Replacing twice Olympic champion Fabi was not easy, quite a challenge indeed. However, Camila Brait, who had been training with her NT since the end of the last Olympic cycle, showed the position is in good hands. Whether with her club, Volei Nestle, or with Team Brazil, Brait showed in 2015 that Brazilian fans have no reason to worry about their libero at the Olympics.
[tps_title]09 / 20 : Kim Yeon-Koung[/tps_title]
Talk about talent! Kim, as the fans call her, jumped to stardom after being chosen MVP at 2012 London Olympics, where she was also best scorer. Collecting awards is an old habit for this all-around wing spiker long before the last Olympic Games. In the last year, she proved her skills once again, being the main star on her heavyweight club, Turkish Fenerbahce.
[tps_title]08 / 20 : Saori Kimura[/tps_title]
Since setter Yoshie Takeshita retired, Kimura took over as the superstar on Team Japan. After the bronze at the 2010 World Championship and 2012 Olympics, Japan still struggles to confirm his presence in the elite, but Kimura remains a star and is the name to lead them in their attempt to return to the podium.
[tps_title]07 / 20 : Fofao[/tps_title]
In 2015 Helia de Souza or simply Fofao, as she is known around the world, said goodbye to the courts at 45 in great style. Once again, this legendary setter, a five-time Olympian with two bronze and one gold medal, won the Brazilian Superliga. She played her last season for Rexona Ades, coached by her friend Bernardinho.
[tps_title]06 / 20 : Tijana Boskovic[/tps_title]
At her age most volleyball players are trying to improve, but this 18-year-old lefty Serb is ready to deliver, having proved this in the last World Cup where she helped Serbia qualify for the Olympics. Replacing the superb Jovana Brakocevic, who is pregnant, did not scare Boskovic. No wonder star-studded Eczacibasi Vitra bought her.
[tps_title]05 / 20 : Kelsey Robinson[/tps_title]
Coming from a country that could assemble several top teams, Kelsey Robinson excels, quickly becoming a household name for volleyball fans around the world. Italy’s Imoco Volley Conegliano did not waste time and hired Robinson, who has been showing her qualities in the Italian league.
[tps_title]04 / 20 : Jordan Larson-Burbach[/tps_title]
Playing her second season in Turkey, this veteran American wing spiker remains a major asset for Team USA. Providing balance, with a solid attack and reliable passing, Larson-Burbach goes for gold in Rio after grabbing silver in London.
[tps_title]03 / 20 : Zhu Ting[/tps_title]
The 21-year-old wing spiker, 2015 World Cup MVP, is certainly the main reason China has already qualified for the Rio Olympics. Already impressive back in 2014 in the World Championship, Ting was lethal in 2015, making Coach Lang Ping’s squad even more powerful.
[tps_title]02 / 20 : Tatiana Kosheleva[/tps_title]
Always energetic and powerful, Tatiana is the heart and soul of the Russian national team. The 27-year-old is totally dedicated to her sport on and off the court and she maintained her high standards in 2015. The Dinamo Krasnodar star was the MVP of the 2015 EuroVolley tournament and is arguably the best wing spiker in Europe.
[tps_title]01 / 20 : Nataliya Obmochaeva[/tps_title]
A stranger to volleyball would probably not believe this slim, graceful lady possesses the power to blow away any opponent (or either hurt them badly). Ukranian-born, Obmochaeva is simply irreplaceable in the Russian squad. She is the top scorer in almost every tournament she plays and is the undisputed leader of both the Russian national team and Dinamo Moscow. If there is a better women’s player on the planet, we haven’t seen her yet.
Vote For Your Women’s Player Of The Year
Don’t agree with our choice of Women’s Player Of The Year? Vote for the Fans’ Player Of The Year below. Share with your friends & invite them to vote as well! Voting closes on the 10th January so don’t miss your opportunity to choose your favourite player of 2015.