The highlight of the 2022 international season is just around the corner with the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship set to take place in Poland and Slovenia from August 26 to September 11.
Five big stars to follow
Ngapeth, Kurek, Bruno, Simon and Nimir will be key to their team’s World Championship campaigns
Published 10:00, 11 Aug 2022
The 17-day tournament will feature the 24 top teams in the world. And in the 20th edition of the competition, those squads are packed with the most popular stars of the sport. Here are five players who are likely to be in the spotlight.
Earvin Ngapeth (France)
In the last 12 months, the French outside hitter has led his team to victories at the Tokyo Olympics and the Volleyball Nations League, earning MVP awards at both. One of the most skilled, crafty and entertaining players in international volleyball, the 31-year-old Ngapeth is at his best in the big moments of a tournament. He will be a key player for France as they aim to add a World Championship to their victory list and secure the ‘Triple Crown’ of international volleyball.
MVP Earvin Ngapeth (France)
Bartosz Kurek (Poland)
The Polish opposite has been a prominent player for his national team over the last decade after starting his international career as an outside hitter. The 33-year-old Kurek was pivotal to Poland’s victory in the last edition of the World Championship, earning the MVP award and leading the tournament’s top scorers. With star outside hitter Wilfredo Leon still recovering from surgery, Kurek’s power in offence and from the service line will be even more important as the Poles fight for their third-straight world title in front of their home fans in Katowice and Gliwice.
Bruno Rezende (Brazil)
The Brazilian captain is one of just two players to have played in the gold medal match of the last three editions of the World Championship, winning gold in 2010 and silver in 2014 and 2018. At the age of 36, he is the technical and emotional leader of a Brazilian team that will be looking to rebound from disappointing finishes at the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 VNL. Bruno has stood out during his entire career for his leadership and his all-around game. He will certainly be looking to lift another trophy in what could be his last World Championship appearance.
Robertlandy Simon (Cuba)
The return of the Cuban middle blocker will be one of the headlines of this year’s World Championship. His last appearance in the event dates back to 2010, when he captained a young Cuban squad to a second-place finish in Italy. Simon, 35, did not play for his country’s national team between 2010 and 2021, but he established himself as one of the best middle blockers in the world during that period while playing at a club level. Very strong, quick and productive, the 2.08m-tall Simon will be the most recognisable face on the Cuban team. The islanders recently won the Volleyball Challenger Cup and are working to return to the elite of the sport.
Nimir Abdel-Aziz (The Netherlands)
Not many players in the world have the scoring ability of the Dutch opposite, who has carried his national team’s production in offence in tournaments around the world. The explosive Nimir is probably set more often than any other player on the planet, and he responds well, scoring at an extremely high rate for the Dutch team. Also their captain, the 30-year-old opposite is a lethal server too, and has had success in some of the top domestic leagues in the world.
Nimir Abdel-Aziz Top Plays (Netherlands vs. Italy, VNL 2022)