Three Dream Teamers in one action - Bartsch-Hackley spikes against the block of Erdem and Ozbay
Lausanne, Switzerland, December 22, 2018 – USA’s Michelle Bartsch-Hackley was named Most Valuable Player of the inaugural edition of the women’s FIVB Volleyball Nations League after her team claimed the historic gold.
After the nail-biting five-set victory over Turkey in the final, Bartsch-Hackley was honoured not only as the MVP of the tournament, but also as one of the two outside hitters on the VNL Dream Team. She was USA’s best scorer in three of the four games played at the finals in Nanjing and particularly impressed with her 24-point contribution to the semifinal win over reigning Olympic champions and VNL finals hosts China.
Michelle Bartsch-Hackley was the second best overall scorer of the finals with a total of 78 points. She was also fifth in the best receivers ranking, sixth spiker and eighth best digger. The American athlete ranked high in individual statistics during the preliminary round as well, finishing second best spiker on a 48% success rate and in the top 10 of the best server, best scorer and best receiver charts.
Chinese star Zhu Ting, who topped the best scorer table of the event in Nanjing with a total of 86 points, was the other outside hitter on the Dream Team. She hammered an amazing 35 points in her team’s opening match victory over the Netherlands, also top-scoring for China in the squad’s remaining three games at the finals, including 20 points for the bronze in the third-place match shutout of Brazil. Zhu Ting was also the best digger and the third best spiker of the finals, leaving her mark in receiving and blocking as well by making the top ten in both of those elements.
One of the two players representing silver medalists Turkey on the Dream Team was their setter Cansu Ozbay. While statistically her average of 23.22 running sets per set was the second best of the tournament, the 21-year-old athlete was certainly the hardest working playmaker at the finals, maintaining her high-level performance over as many as 18 sets played, organizing as many as 429 attacks for her team. Cansu Ozbay also contributed to Turkey’s tally by scoring three aces, three stuff blocks and five spikes.
The two finalists shared the honours of the best middle blockers on the VNL Dream Team. USA’s TeTori Dixon scored 11 stuffs for a total of 35 points at the finals, while Turkey’s Eda Erdem Dundar did even better – her 41 spikes, 12 stuffs and six aces, for a total of 59 points, positioned her in fourth place of the overall best scorers chart of the tournament. The Turkish middle blocker had a fantastic scoring run in the preliminary round as well, where she ended up third in the best servers ranking, fourth in the best blockers ranking and 16th in the overall scorers chart. Dixon was not on the starting line-up in USA’s first match in Nanjing, but, along with Bartsch-Hackley, was instrumental in the victorious comeback from two sets down against Turkey and earned her spot on the main team for the remainder of the tournament.
Fourth-placed Brazil also had two players on the Dream Team. Opposite Tandara Caixeta, a steady point-maker for the team throughout the event in Nanjing, was one of them. She was also the third best scorer of the finals, after Zhu Ting and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, with a tally of 71 points – four aces, two stuff blocks and 65 spikes, and fourth best of the preliminary round with 231 points. Tandara also came second in the best spikers ranking and fourth in the best servers ranking of the tournament in China.
Brazil’s Suelen Pinto was the third best digger of the VNL finals and the highest placed libero on that chart with an average of 2.5 digs per set and her spot in the Dream Team was no surprise either. She was also the third best libero on the best receivers ranking in Nanjing.
Gabi of Brazil topped two of the individual statistical rankings at the VNL finals
Many of the individual chart toppers at the VNL finals did not end up on the Dream Team, as it normally requires a more complex all-round performance beyond the pure statistics. They still deserve a mention here. Brazil’s Gabriela Braga Guimaraes was both the best spiker and the best receiver of the tournament. Her teammates Adenizia Da Silva and Roberta Silva Ratzke were the best blocker and the best setter, respectively, while USA’s Jordan Larson was the best server. Among those whose teams did not make the final six of the VNL, Poland’s Malwina Smarzek stood out as the best scorer of the preliminary round with 361 points, 111 points (!) clear of the second best performer in the table.