We locked our panel of volleyball experts in a dark room and told them not to come out until they could agree on the Top 20 men’s players for 2015.
After a few sleepless nights they emerged with the inaugural ‘Volleyverse 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 men’s players & don’t forget to cast your vote below for the Fans’ Player of the Year!
20 / 20 : Tine Urnaut
The Slovenian team shocked the volleyball world as they finished runners-up at the 2015 EuroVolley. Urnaut played a major role in the fairytale run, winning best outside/wing spiker at Europe’s showcase event.
19 / 20 : Micah Christenson
American coaches have been searching for a setter since Lloy Ball departed the national team. Christenson, now playing in the competitive Italian league, might be the answer. His ability to speed up the game was a major factor in Team USA’s 2015 success.
18 / 20 : Kunihiro Shimizu
It has been a long time since Japanese volleyball gained any attention on the world stage. Shimizu may be the symbol of a new era for Japan in men’s volleyball. They are not yet an elite team but they now have a world-class opposite in their line-up.
17 / 20 : Osmany Juantorena
After a long wait the Cuban-born star finally joined Team Italy in 2015. Alongside Ivan Zaytsev, he is a constant worry for any rival. He is still recovering from injuries but deserves his place in the Volleyverse Top 20.
16 / 20 : Seyed Mousavi
Team Iran had a disappointing season that culminated with coach Slobodan Kovac being fired after the eighth-place finish at the FIVB World Cup. Mousavi, with his amazing blocking timing, maintained his elite level of play and is still a brick wall for his opponents.
15 / 20 : Antonin Rouzier
In 2014 ‘Monsieur’ Rouzier was struggling after several injuries but since the World Championship he proved his quality, despite not being the traditional right-side player. He played a key role in France’s World League title and was voted MVP at the 2015 EuroVolley, a tournament Les Bleus also won.
14 / 20 : Jochen Schops
This cerebral player, also a member of his national team, led his polish club Resovia Rzeszow to a runner-up at the 2015 Champions League finals. His year ended in disaster after he slipped and fell in an elevator at a hotel and broke his shoulder.
13 / 20: Benjamin Toniutti
The diminutive French setter plays with precision and intelligence. His sets were one of the main reasons France was arguably the best team in 2015.
12 / 20: Thomas Edgar
The Aussies are still a mid-level team but Edgar is a huge threat to any block and defense, a real hammer. His impressive 50-point haul in Australia’s five-set win over Egypt at the FIVB World Cup was the highlight of a strong year for the 26-year-old.
11 / 20 : Aleksandar Atanasijevic
His missiles helped the young Serbia squad to surprise the powerful Team USA in the semis at the World League. He inflicted more pain on American star Taylor Sander in a recent club match. Sander copped the full brunt of an Atanasijevic spike and had to be taken to hospital with a head injury. He was released and made a full recovery.
10 / 20: Jenia Grebennikov
Undoubtedly the best in his position nowadays, continuing the high quality his country has provided since this position was introduced back in 1998.
09 / 20 : Sebastian Sole
Maybe there was the hand of legendary coach Julio Velasco behind this transformation, but Sole jumped from being a good middle to a top notch player, being awarded best blocker at the FIVB men’s World Cup.
08 / 20 : Michal Kubiak
The Polish squad didn’t have a great season after becoming world champion in 2014, but their captain showed his class around the globe at both national and club level.
07 / 20 : Facundo Conte
One of the most skilled hitters in the world. Conte is an excitement machine and one of the main reasons Argentina is becoming a threat to the powerhouses at international level.
06 / 20 : Ricardo Lucarelli
The 23-year-old is the main Brazilian weapon for the Rio Olympics and the next cycle. He is truly world-class and can dominate any opponent on his day.
05 / 20 : Vladamir Nikolov
The 38-year-old returned to the national team and wound back the clock. He made a massive impact at 2015 Eurovolley and proved beyond doubt he is still world class.
04 / 20 : Ivan Zaytsev
The popular Italian played a decisive role to take team Italy to the silver medal at the World Cup, which gave them an Olympic berth. His consistency sets him apart and on his day he is the best player in the world.
03 / 20 : Yoandry Leal
It was a big year for the Cuban-born superstar. He finally became a naturalised Brazilian in December and was voted MVP at 2015 FIVB Club World Championship as he led powerhouse Sada Cruzeiro to their second club world championship.
02 / 20 : Matt Anderson
The big American is an unstoppable force and he again proved his class in 2015 with a series of superb performances for both his club and country. The highlight was his World Cup campaign as he led Team USA to victory and an Olympic berth, claiming the MVP award for good measure.
01 / 20 : Earvin N’gapeth
The brilliant Frenchman had his share of troubles off the court in 2015 but he could do nothing wrong on it. N’gapeth was voted MVP of the FIVB World League and should have won EuroVolley MVP but was overlooked for team-mate Antonin Rouzier. His precocious no-look kill for the winning point in the EuroVolley final was arguably the most memorable moment in 2015.