The team lists for the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship were released last week and some of the biggest stars of the sport are set to return when the competition takes place in Poland and Slovenia from August 26 to September 11.
Big names back for more
Wallace, Leon, Conte and Anderson all included in their team’s rosters
Published 07:46, 08 Aug 2022
For different reasons, players like Brazilian Rio 2016 Olympic champ Wallace de Souza, Polish star outside hitter Wilfredo Leon, Argentinean Tokyo Olympic medallist Facundo Conte and American veteran opposite Matt Anderson all sat out of the Volleyball Nations League, but are back for the World Championship.
Wallace is set to return to the Brazilian national team at the age of 35, after retiring from international volleyball following last year’s Tokyo Olympics. He returns to bolster the team at the opposite position.
Head coach Renan Dal Zotto lost Alan de Souza to injury during the VNL and with replacements Felipe Roque, Aboubacar ‘Abouba’ Neto and Franco Paese all recovering from physical issues, he turned to the Most Valuable Player of the 2021 VNL for help. Wallace will be joined by another opposite, 20-year-old Darlan Souza.
“Unfortunately, due to Alan’s injury, I feel like the national team might need me at this moment,” he said. “My main role there will be to help with my experience and try to support Darlan, who did a great job at the VNL. I’m in good shape and will prepare in the best possible way to help the team.”
Leon, 29, missed the VNL after he underwent left knee surgery in early June. The star outside hitter has been recovering since, and was included in the Polish roster, but whether he is fit to play remains to be confirmed.
In the case of Conte, his absence at the VNL was part of a plan to have the Argentinean star at the top of his game for the World Championship. At the age of 32, the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist has been training with the team since May, but was rested ahead of the season highlight.
“I needed some time to be in my best shape for the World Championship,” he told Volleyball World. “I will get to the tournament fresh and extremely motivated to do my best. We have high expectations for the competition and are hungry for a good performance.”
Matt Anderson, 35, also felt the need for a break after a tough club season in Italy with Sir Safety Conad Perugia, which resulted in an Italian Cup victory. The American veteran also wanted to spend time with his family following the birth of his daughter Virginia, in April, and is now ready to rejoin the squad that took silver at the VNL.
Bulgaria have also added firepower to their offence with the return of veteran opposite Tsvetan Sokolov. The 31-year-old hitter will make his first appearance with the team since last year’s European Championship, and will likely form an explosive duo with young outside hitter Aleksandar Nikolov.
Serbian outside hitter Uros Kovacevic meanwhile is fully recovered from the injury he sustained in the playoffs of the Polish League and will strengthen the European squad as they look to improve on a VNL campaign that saw them rank 11th.