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Who is the Best Volleyball Player in 2020? (Best Players Ranking)

It’s not that easy to choose the best volleyball player in the world. There are a couple of players who play on a great level for years and picking the best one is hard. It’s not like soccer where there is either Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi. In volleyball, there can be at least 20 players who can be the best.

But I decided to try to assess which one is the best by considering their performance throughout the years, what they won with their clubs and national teams, and their individual awards. Here’s the list of the 10 best volleyball players in 2020. Scroll down to get to know more about them and learn surprising facts about each player.

Who are the best volleyball players?

1. Wilfredo LeonPoland
2. Jenia GrebennikovFrance
3. Matthew AndersonUSA
4. Bruno RezendeBrazil
5. Bartosz KurekPoland
6. Earvin N’GapethFrance
7. Osmany JuantorenaItaly
8. Ricardo LucarelliBrazil
9. Ivan ZaytsevItaly
10. Wallace de SouzaBrazil

1. Wilfredo Leon

Nationality: Poland
DOB: 31 July 1993
Position: Outside hitter
Height: 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in)

Wilfredo Leon is a Cuban with Polish citizenship. He played for Cuba until 2012 and then decided to leave this country and not playing anymore for the national team. He had a Polish fiancée and because of that he has obtained Polish citizenship, but he debuted in the Polish national team in 2019. From 2014 to 2018 he played for one of the best volleyball clubs in the world Zenit Kazan, where he won the Champions League title 4 times, FIVB Club World Championship 4 times, Russian Cup 4 times, Russian Championship 4 times, and Russian Supercup 3 times. Furthermore, he won lots of individual awards like Best Outside Spiker Most Valuable Player in the CEV Champions League in 2016. In Zenit Kazan, he was the richest volleyball player making well over €1.200.000 per season. Right now he is playing for Perugia.

He’s the real power, and he’s priceless for his club and the national Polish team. Great form for more than 10 years, tons of tournaments won and dozens of individual awards make him the best player in the world in 2020.

FACT: Wilfredo Leon debuted in the Cuban team at the age of 14.

2. Jenia Grebennikov

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Nationality: France
DOB: 13 August 1990
Position: Libero
Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)

Being a libero in volleyball is a hard thing. You don’t score points, so it’s not that obvious to place you in the best volleyball players ranking. But everyone who is watching volleyball knows that he deserved to be on this list like no other. Jenia Grebennikov is a defense master. He is always in the right position and when he’s on the court, it’s not that easy to score a point against France or his club Trentino. It’s hard to find another libero who’s playing on such a high level for almost all the career. He’s also titled. Jenia won the FIVB Club World Championship twice, CEV Champions League 3 times with Lube Civitanova, CEV European Championship, FIVB World League. During great tournaments, he won the Best Libero Player award 10 times.

Even though Jenia Grebennikov is a libero, you can’t overlook him. He’s the best libero in 2020, but I think if he keeps playing like that for another 3 or 4 years, he has a chance to be the best libero of all time.

FACT: Jenia’s father, Boris Grebennikov is a former Russian volleyball player and coach.

3. Matthew Anderson

Nationality: USA
DOB: April 18, 1987
Position: Outside hitter/Opposite
Height: 2.08 m (6 ft 10 in)

I can’t imagine the USA team without Matthew Anderson. He’s an icon of the whole American and International Volleyball. He is the legend of Zenit Kazan, where he spent 7 years. Throughout this time he won 20 titles, including 5 CEV Champions League titles. With the USA team, Matthew reached out for the FIVB World Cup in 2015 and FIVB World League in 2014. Overall, he won 13 medals with his national team. In October 2014, Anderson suspended his career. He asked for the termination of the contract with Zenit Kazan because of depression. In December 2014 Anderson announced his return to Zenit. He was a leading figure in the last 8 years. He used to play in clubs like Penn State Nittany Lions, Hyundai Capital, Tonno Callipo Vibo Valentia, and Casa Modena.

Every team has to be afraid of Matthew Anderson. One of the most complete volleyball players in the world.

FACT: Anderson has a tattoo on his wrist in honor of his nephew Tristin, who is autistic.

4. Bruno Rezende

Nationality: Brazil
DOB: 2 July 1986
Position: Setter
Height: 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)

Although Bruno is 34 this year, he’s still considered the best setter. He spent a couple of seasons in Italian clubs, but he has come back to Brazil. Doesn’t matter where he plays- he always sets the ball like the best setter in the world. I remember him from his appearances with Brazil, where he was the number one player almost all the time. His list of accomplishments with Brazil is really long. In total, he has 30 (!) podiums with Brazil, including 17 gold medals. Hands down, it’s one of the most titled players in the world of volleyball. Bruno Rezende also won one Champions League title with Lube Civitanova and Club World Championship in 2019.

I don’t know any other setter who played in so many finals of great tournaments and helped his team as Bruno did.

FACT: Bruno is close friends with footballer Neymar.

5. Bartosz Kurek

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Nationality: Poland
DOB: 29 August 1988
Position: Outside hitter/Opposite
Height: 2.07 m (6 ft 9 in)

If you think about the Polish national volleyball team, probably one of the first names that come to your head is Bartosz Kurek. Indeed, this player is not only one of the best players in Poland, but in the whole world. Kurek is a player who doesn’t have any significant success with his clubs. Maybe because he played in 12 clubs in his career and wasn’t able to settle down. His biggest achievement is a silver medal in the CEV Champions League in 2012 with Skra Belchatow. He’s a hero for Polish volleyball fans because he led this team to FIVB World Championship triumph in 2018 and first place in the FIVB World League in 2012.

Some people can say he had a better and worse time in his career, but he was able to overcome each crisis and that is how you define a great master.

FACT: Kurek and his little brother appeared together in a Polish TV advertisement for Zott yogurt Monte.

6. Earvin N’Gapeth

Nationality: France
DOB: 12 February 1991
Position: Outside hitter
Height: 1.94 m (6 ft 4 in)

Earvin N’Gapeth is one of the most controversial volleyball players. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s a really gifted player with huge abilities. He’s one of the leading figures in French volleyball. N’Gapeth won with France FIVB World League twice, and CEV European Championship. Individually, he was the Most Valuable Player in a couple of tournaments. Since 2018 he’s playing for Zenit Kazan and it seems to be a great place for the French outside hitter. Earvin has already earned a silver medal Champions League and a bronze medal in the Club World Championship.

Earvin N’Gapeth not without a reason is on the list of the best volleyball players in the world. He always helps his team to win every possible match and most of the players are being afraid of him.

FACT: In March 2020 Earvin N’Gapeth was diagnosed to have Coronavirus.

7. Osmany Juantorena

Nationality: Italy
DOB: 12 August 1985
Position: Outside hitter
Height: 2.00 m (6 ft 7 in)

Juantorena is another player after Wilfredo Leon, who has Cuban roots. He played for Cuba for a couple of years but then decided to expand his skills in the Russian club Ural Ufa. I think when he was about 25 years old, he was the best volleyball in the world. Right now, of course, he’s also fantastic, but he’s older and not capable of playing as well as he used to. He played for clubs like Trentino, Halkbank Ankara, and Lube Civitanova. His career in Italian clubs was very fruitful. He won Champions League 3 times, 4 times the Club World Championship, and a couple of other national championships.

I can call him the legend of volleyball. He’s just an amazing players with high skills who will be remembered even if he ends his career.

FACT: Juantorena in 2006 was disqualified from volleyball for 2 years for doping.

8. Ricardo Lucarelli Souza

Nationality: Brazil
DOB: 14 February 1992
Position: Outside hitter
Height: 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)

It’s startling how time flies by. I remember Lucarelli’s debut in Brazil as a 20-year-old, inexperienced guy and now he’s among the best players in volleyball. Ricardo Lucarelli is famous for his powerful serves and superior attack. With this outside hitter, Brazil is stronger, and he helped them win 13 medals in big tournaments. As one of the few, he decided to spend most of his career in Brazil playing for Funvic Taubate, SESI São Paulo, and Minas Tenis Clube. In 2020, he joined one of the strongest volleyball teams in the world- Trentino Volley.

Lucarelli can be soon number one in this ranking because he might be able to play volleyball for at least another 5 years. He’s got lots of potential and placing him in this ranking is compulsory.

FACT: He’s known as Lucarelli, but his full name is Ricardo Samuel Lucarelli Santos de Souza.

9. Ivan Zaytsev

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Nationality: Italy
DOB: October 2, 1988
Position: Right Side Hitter
Height: 2.04 m (6 ft 8 in)

When I was younger, and I used to play volleyball with my friends, everyone wanted to be like Zaytsev. He was an amazing player back then, but now…he’s even better. Zaytsev is the fourth player in this ranking who has different roots when playing for a different countries. Ivan started to play professionally at the age of 16 in the Italian league. His serves are powerful, and he’s considered by some experts as the best player in that field. He’s a fantastic player, but he doesn’t have any gold medal with Italy, moreover, he has only one gold medal in the international championship. He feels a little unfulfilled. But, buck up, Ivan, you have some individual MVP awards and I think you still have a chance to win something either with your club or national team.

Ivan Zaystev is a great individuality, but he can be disappointed with his gold medal numbers.

FACT: During Olympic Games 2016 he set a record in the fastest volleyball serve – 134km/h. You can find more surprising volleyball facts like this in this article.

10. Wallace de Souza

Nationality: Brazil
DOB: 26 June 1987
Position: Opposite
Height: 2.00 m (6 ft 7 in)

Wallace is the real killer. He can score points almost from any position. He spent all of his career in Brazil. He could have played in better European clubs, but he decided to stay in his country. Wallace is a real consolidation of his clubs, but primarily the Brazilian national team. His biggest success is an Olympic Game triumph in 2016. Moreover, he was called Best Opposite Spiker of this tournament. Overall, Wallace is more than a solid player who plays well all of his career.

He could be priceless for almost every club in the world. His skills are great and is a danger for most teams.

FACT: Wallace’s spike is 365 cm.

Young volleyball players who can be the best in the world

Most of the players in the ranking above are over 30. That means that sooner or later, they will end their careers. Who will replace them? Take a look at the best young players who can soon be among the best players in the world.

Yūji Nishida

Remember this name. He has recently turned 20 and I think he is aspiring to be a great volleyball star. This Japanese player plays as the opposite spiker. His biggest achievement so far is Best Opposite Spiker in the FIVB World Cup, which means he was better than all Brazilian, Polish, American, and Russian players. If he keeps working, he can soon become the best.

Jakub Kochanowski

Jakub Kochanowski is a Polish middle blocker. He’s 24, but he’s already a World Champion with Poland. In this tournament, he scored 75 points and was among the best 20 players. Right now he plays for Zaksa Kedzierzyn-Kozle, but I’m pretty sure some big club is going to reach out for him.

Jeffrey Jendryk Ii

American player had a very successful World Cup in 2018. He’s playing in the German Bundesliga, and he’s a solid player of Berlin Recycling Volley. He’s going to follow Matt Anderson and I bet his talent is going to flourish.

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