Maxim Mikhaylov in action during the final of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League
Lausanne, Switzerland, December 24, 2018 – Maxim Mikhaylov's magical performances were key to Russia's victory in the inaugural edition of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League in July. They also earned the Russian opposite a well-deserved Most Valuable Player award.
Mikhaylov was the top scorer in three of the four matches Russia played at the finals in Lille. In the gold medal match itself he led the charts with 19 points. The Russian star also put in a well-rounded performance in Lille to finish in the top 10 in four of the seven individual rankings for the tournament. With 63 points including five aces and five stuff blocks, he was also third best scorer - only Frenchmen Stephen Boyer (75) and Earvin Ngapeth (67) scored more points, and they had three more sets to play at the finals. The Russian opposite was also the third best spiker, the fourth best server and even the 10th best digger among the competitors at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
The VNL Dream Team included two more Russians. Dmitriy Volkov shone as one of the best two outside hitters. He even outscored his teammate Mikhaylov in Russia’s opening match in Lille, contributing 17 points (including three aces and three stuffs) to the four-set victory over Poland. His amazing overall performance at the finals resulted in his presence among the top 10 of six individual charts, naturally missing out on the setters ranking only. Volkov was the third best server, the third best digger, the fifth best blocker, the sixth best scorer, the seventh best receiver and the ninth best spiker.
2.18-metre-tall Dmitriy Muserskiy was nominated as one of the middle blockers on the Dream Team. The towering Russian made a major contribution to his squad’s successful run in Lille, impressing with his spectacular performance in the semifinal shutout of Brazil. He was also key to Russia’s successful run in the preliminary round. Muserskiy topped the best spikers chart of the preliminaries with a mind-boggling 65.47% success rate in attack. He was also among the best six in scoring, blocking and serving. In addition, Muserskiy was the sixth best blocker and the second highest scoring middle player at the finals in France.
Silver medallists and finals hosts France had three of their players named on the Dream Team. Kevin Le Roux stood right across from Muserskiy as a Dream Team middle blocker. At the event in Lille, he was fourth on the blockers chart and seventh among the servers. Benjamin Toniutti stayed well in control of the organization of the French offensive line allowing only one fault in his 277 attempts at placing a nice ball for his spikers, which resulted in a tournament high of 276 running sets. Finally, libero Jenia Grebennikov also made the VNL Dream Team. He was the fourth best receiver at the finals and also showed off some excellent setter skills, whenever they were needed. He made a perfect 22 running sets in 22 attempts at setting the ball without making a single error and ranked the fourth best digger of the preliminary round as well.
USA’s opposite Matthew Anderson and outside hitter Taylor Sander completed the list of nominees on the Dream Team. Both Americans found their way into the top ten in three of the statistical charts in Lille – for best scorers, for best spikers and for best servers. Sanders was also the third best receiver of the finals and Anderson finished third for both best spiker and best server of the preliminary round.
None of the individual chart toppers in Lille, however, made it into the Dream Team. France’s Stephen Boyer was the best scorer of the tournament with a tally of 75 points, eight clear of teammate and runner-up Earvin Ngapeth and 12 clear of MVP Maxim Mikhaylov. Russia’s Egor Kliuka was the best server with an average of 0.46 aces per set. Three Brazilians also performed well - Lucas Saatkamp was the best blocker, Bruno Rezende was the best setter and Thales Hoss the best receiver. The remaining two individual first places went to Poland – Bartosz Kurek was the most efficient spiker, while Pawel Zatorski led the diggers.
Finally, Brazil’s Wallace De Souza scored the highest number of points over the duration of the Volleyball Nations League with a total of 277 (16 aces, 21 stuffs and 240 spikes). Despite his team not qualifying for the Finals, China’s Chuan Jiang was the second most prolific player of the competition with 274 points (13 aces, 19 stuffs and 242 spikes), 58 clear of Wallace at the end of the preliminary round.