Is it the excitement, the adrenaline rush, or is it just our imagination? Whatever it is, there’s something about sports. The thrill it gives the fans is what keeps them coming back for more. We, the loyal sports fans, tend to find ourselves following almost all the games of our favorite teams, sports, or athletes just for the sake of such excitement. One of the most amazing sports is volleyball.
Whether it is indoor volleyball we’re talking about or beach volleyball, it’s a fact that one of the main factors responsible for such excitement is the superstars that deliver the exciting matches that we enjoy. So, without further ado, let’s talk about some of the most famous volleyball players from all over the world.
1. Karch Kiraly (USA)
Kiraly is arguably the most famous volleyball player ever and is usually mentioned as the best volleyball player that ever lived. Born on November 3, 1960, he managed to find himself in a remarkable position in the national team of the USA which won 2 Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1988. After a successful career indoors, he moved on to make history in beach volleyball by winning yet another gold medal in 1996. His appearance was very unique as he was famous for wearing a pink cap during his beach volleyball games. He is the only volleyball player to win gold medals in both indoor and beach volleyball. It is worth mentioning that Kiraly was named ‘Greatest Volleyball Player of the Century’ by FIVB.
2. Giba (Brazil)
Gilberto Godoy Filho, a.k.a. Giba, is probably the most recognized player around the world. He possesses a strong presence and charisma in addition to an amazing talent that puts him among the best volleyball players in the world despite being relatively short among today’s players. Born December 23, 1976, he played in Italy where he won 1 Italian cup title and was awarded the most valuable player (2006). He later moved back to Brazil to win a Brazilian championship in 2001.
Giba’s most notable accomplishments are with the national team of Brazil, which is one of the best–if not the best–teams around the world. Giba’s record with his national team includes an Olympic gold medal, three World Championships, eight World League titles, eight South American Championships, and many others.
3. Ivan MiljkoviÄ‡ (Serbia)
This six-foot nine-inch Serbian volleyball player currently plays for ‘FenerbahÃ§e Grundig’ in Turkey. He previously played for different teams in Serbia, Italy, and Greece. Born on September 13, 1979, he is well-known as one of the best players in the world, and the first player to receive the ‘Most Valuable Player’ Award 4 times in the years 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005. His most important accomplishment is winning an Olympic gold medal with the national team of Yugoslavia. He was also awarded many personal awards such as the European championship’s ‘Best Scorer’ title.
4. Kerri Walsh (USA)
Born on August 15, 1978, Walsh is a two-time Olympic gold medalist alongside teammate Misty May-Treanor winning those medals in 2004 and 2008. They are called the best beach volleyball team ever. Indeed, they have dominated the game for the past few years. Walsh plays professional beach volleyball on the U.S. AVP tour while playing internationally on the FIVB world tour. She also played for two seasons in the national volleyball team for the USA during which they made fourth place in the Olympics that took place in Sydney (2000).
She received many personal awards such as FIVB Best Blocker (2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008) and FIVB Best Hitter (2005, 2006, and 2007). Besides her many personal achievements in beach volleyball, Walsh is also known for having one of the greatest career earnings in the game after topping $1,000,000 in 2006.
5. Andrea Giani (Italy)
Giani was a very successful player during the 1990s, achieving many awards and titles with the national team of Italy. Born on April 22, 1970, Giani won 3 consecutive World titles with Italy (1990, 1994 and 1998), in addition to 4 European titles. He is currently retired but is actively involved with volleyball as a coach.
A very interesting fact about Andrea Giani is that he represented his national team in international matches more than any other countryman in any sport.
Giani was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2008.
6. Alessandro Fei (Italy)
This famous Italian player was born on November 29, 1978. He currently plays for Sisley Treviso in Italy and is one of the best players in the Italian League. Fei received many personal awards such as ‘Most Valuable player’ and ‘Best Server’ during his participation in the CEV Champions League with his team. He also won several titles with the national team of Italy including one World Championship and four World League titles.
7. Yumilka Ruiz Luaces (Cuba)
Without any doubt, she is one of the best female players in the world. She was born May 8, 1979. Ruiz represented the national team of Cuba in 4 consecutive Summer Olympics starting 1996, during which she won 2 gold medals in 1996 and 2000, in addition to a bronze medal in 2004. Among her individual achievements are World Championship ‘Best Scorer’ in 2002 and FIVB World Grand Prix ‘Best Spiker’ in 2004.
The most remarkable thing about Ruiz is her amazing jumping ability. Some even say that she can actually fly due to the extreme jumping power she possesses which reaches up to 3.28 m.
8. Gabrielle Reece (USA)
Reece is one of the superstars that shined during the 1990s. She was born on January 6, 1970. She competed on different levels including the four-person Women’s Beach Volleyball League, Olympic Challenge series and FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. She made many personal records during her volleyball career, namely leading the league in kills and blocks.
What’s unique about Reece is the fact that she went on to write another story of success as a model. Her modeling career started early in 1989, and she managed to appear on the covers of different magazines such as Outside, Shape, and Elle, the latter naming her one of the five most beautiful women in the world.
9. Maxim Mikhaylov (Russia)
Born March 19, 1988, this young superstar is probably on his way to make a great career. With the national team of Russia, he won the bronze medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics and a silver medal in 2010, as well as the 2011 FIVB World League gold medal during which he was awarded the ‘Most Valuable Player’ and ‘Best Blocker’ titles. His great hitting ability and magnificent jump place him among the best players in the world today. Mikhaylov currently plays for ‘Zenit Kazan.’
With such talent and a promising future, this 23-year-old superstar is certainly one to look for in the coming championships.
10. Bartosz Kurek (Poland)
Kurek is another example of a young and promising superstar in the game. He was born on August 29, 1988 in WaÅ‚brzych, Poland. He recently won the World League bronze medal in 2011 with the national team of Poland and was one of the most remarkable players of the competition as he was awarded ‘Best Scorer’ during that championship.
Kurek is also known for his charisma and his captivating smile which guarantees him an easy entry into the fans’ hearts.
He was awarded the Order of Polonia Restituta, one of the highest orders in Poland, in 2009 due to his outstanding achievements in sports.
Now that we’re done with our list of famous volleyball players, it is obvious that these superstars are the key to the great games that we enjoy. Their popularity is usually due to their extraordinary talents such as seen in the majority of our list; however, it can sometimes be attributed to other factors such as good looks as is the case with Gabrielle Reece. Whether they are retired or still in action, it is certain that they have done a great job in delivering great games and satisfying their fans.