From January 10 to 16 we will be 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 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Here's the list of men ranked from second to fourth.
Best of 2021: Men’s countdown 2-4
Gepubliceerd 04:00, 14 jan. 2022
Who were your top players of the year?
It would have been a shame if the talented Argentinean generation led by Luciano De Cecco had walked away without a major result in 2021. With some of their key players entering their 30s, the team approached the Tokyo Games as potentially their last chance to shine at the Olympics and with a lot of grind and a phenomenal performance against rivals Brazil, the South Americans returned to the podium for the first time in 33 years with the bronze medals around their necks. De Cecco was not only the team captain but also the glue that kept his teammates together and the mastermind that orchestrated the Argentinean squad at the Games. The Maestro also enjoyed a very successful first season with Italian giants Cucine Lube Civitanova, taking gold in both the Italian League and the Italian Cup and silver at the FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship.
Earvin Ngapeth has long been considered one of the best volleyball players in the world, but if there was something still missing in his career it was winning a major title with the French national team. Their victories at the 2015 and 2017 FIVB Volleyball World League tournaments were memorable, but guiding his country to their first Olympic medal last summer in Tokyo was taking things to a completely different level. The talented outside hitter, who helped France win bronze at the Volleyball Nations League a couple of months earlier, was in stellar form in the Japanese capital, delivering 26 points in the gold medal match against Russia and earning the tournament's Most Valuable Player award. After winning the Russian SuperCup with Zenit Kazan, Ngapeth moved back to Italy to play for giants Modena.
Ngapeth was France's main player at the Tokyo Olympics, but they wouldn't have done it without Jean Patry. The 25-year-old opposite stepped up in big moments for the Europeans, and was the team's top scorer in four of their eight matches in Tokyo. He also ranked third in points (135) in the tournament. Patry provided a much-needed second scoring option for the Olympic champions, which was also important to the team during their bronze medal campaign in the Volleyball Nations League. At the club level, the Frenchman triumphed in the CEV Challenge Cup with Milano.