From January 10 to 16 we are counting down the 12 best players per gender in 2021, looking back at some of the highlights of the year including the FIVB Volleyball Nations League and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Today we continue the women’s countdown with the players ranked 5th to 8th.
Best of 2021: Women’s countdown 5-8
Published 04:00, 13 Jan 2022
Who were your top players of the year?
The year Carol Gattaz turned 40 was truly remarkable for her. In the spring of 2021, the Brazilian middle blocker was called to her national team for the first time in eight years and made a spectacular return by winning silver at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League and making it to the Dream Team of the tournament. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games later in the summer was where the 1.92m-tall star celebrated her 40th anniversary and went on to crown it with another silver, the first Olympic medal of her career and another Dream Team nomination as one of the Best Middle Blockers of the competition. The successful season for Gattaz and her national team continued at the 2021 CSV South American Championship, where they triumphed with the trophy. As a player of Brazil’s Minas Tenis Clube Belo Horizonte, in 2021 Gattaz added a silver and a Best Middle Blocker award at the South American Club Championship, a Brazilian championship gold and a national cup trophy to her memorable collection. Minas also reached the semifinals of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship.
Two great top-of-the-podium triumphs marked Jordan Larson’s season with the US national team. First, they snatched their third back-to-back VNL crown. Then, the 1.88m-tall outside hitter captained the Americans to the Olympic title at Tokyo 2020, the team’s first Olympic gold and an overall third Olympic medal for Larson. Larson’s triumph in the Japanese capital was decorated with two individual awards – the MVP honour and one of the two outside hitter spots on the Dream Team. Larson, who turned 35 in October, is awaiting her second campaign in the Athletes Unlimited professional league in the States after headlining the inaugural 2021 season as a champion and MVP.
Gabriela Guimaraes was also part of the successful Brazilian squad in 2021. In addition to winning silver medals at both the VNL and the Tokyo Olympics, and the gold medal at the South American Championship, the 27-year-old outside hitter claimed the Most Valuable Player award at the CSV’s flagship continental event and a spot on the VNL Dream team. Gabi made the ideal seven at each of the two major international club competitions she took part in, the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship and the 2021 CEV Champions League. The 1.80m-tall outside helped her Turkish club side, VakifBank Istanbul, win their fourth world crown and a European continental silver, in addition to all three domestic trophies in 2021, the national championship, the national cup and the national super cup.
In her first full year playing volleyball at the senior level, 17-year-old Arina Fedorovtseva rapidly established herself as arguably the best server in the world. She quickly stationed herself as a starter for Russian powerhouse Dinamo-Ak Bars Kazan and received the Superliga Best Server award along with her bronze medal at the end of the 2020-2021 season, before signing her first international professional contract to transfer to Turkish giant Fenerbahce Opet Istanbul. The 1.90m-tall Russian outside immediately received a call to the national team, made her debut at the 2021 VNL and then topped the statistical charts for serving at both the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2021 CEV European Championship. After joining Fenerbahce, the rising star played at her first Club World Championship in December, and in addition to winning the bronze, she once again emerged as the player with the highest number of serving aces in the tournament. She was also the second best overall scorer and earned herself a spot on the Dream Team.