Best of 2015: My picks for Best Filipino, international volleyball players and teams

TOP 10 INTERNATIONAL TEAMS

10. Italy, Men’s

10 - Italy M

Italy had a steady year. It wasn’t that great but it is not that bad. They were able to maintain their position as one of the perennial powerhouses in the world. And even though they have quite some new players, they still made a lot of good runs this year. It will be interesting to see how they will play in 2016 with the veteran players.

9. Brazil, Women’s

09 - Brazil W

We saw Brazil parade a group of young players this year, and they did not disappoint. They were able to show that despite the absence of star players, they can still win games. They won bronze this year in FIVB World Grand Prix.

8. Poland, Men’s

08 - Poland M

After an amazing 2014, Poland still maintained their status as powerhouse. They did had some setbacks but they were able to enter the Final four in both major leagues this year. Some star players did not play but it showed how the youngsters can keep up with the competition.

7. China, Women’s

07 - China W

Once again, we saw how the dominance of China. People always say that China’s floor defense is weak, but this year, they proved everyone wrong. Their tall players are now digging and receiving well. It’s kind of scary when you think about it because they keep on improving every year. They’re about to dominate almost every tournament they will join in the next years. I put them at 7th because they kind of messed up their World Grand Prix bid. But nevertheless, they will be an exciting team come 2016.

6. Serbia, Men’s

06 - Serbia M

One of the surprise teams of this year. Nobody expected them to make the World League Finals. But even though they have a young core, they proved that they will be a force to reckon with in the coming years. They’re pretty loaded and they’re a tall team. We can expect a lot more surprises (and more monster blockers!) in the next few years.

5. USA, Women’s

04 - USA W

Despite a crucial loss, USA proved that they are really the #1 team in the world right now. USA displayed versatility this year. They fielded in some players out of their usual core. And even though they did that, they dominated a lot of teams. And even with the constant substitution of players, they were still able to maintain the low-fast kind of play. In fact, I feel like they have already perfected the low-fast system. Looks like this team is ready to win the Olympics. But we’ll see.

4. Russia, Women’s

05 - Russia W

It was sort of a resurgence for Russia this year. I can say that they had a very good year because of how the team performed. They’re finally back. They finally have floor defense and they were able to find the right setter to complement the attackers. And they all did these with a young core. What more if they will let their star players play? It will be an interesting 2016 for Russia.

3. Serbia, Women’s

02 - Serbia W

The most unexpected team of 2015. They just came out of nowhere, and now they’re in the Olympics (much like their 2007 World Cup story). It was sort of an underdog story for Serbia. With mostly young players, Serbia won silver in the World Cup by winning a lot of nerve-wracking and heart-breaking (for the opponents) 5 setters. A lot of people were shocked but it was a welcome development in the volleyball community. Let’s see how their 2016 will go.

2. USA, Men’s

03 - USA M

Probably one of the best years for USA Men’s team. They were able to win the World Cup, and they were 3 points short of making the FIVB World League Finals. But not to worry because they will in the Olympics in 2016. The team was able to build their own terror trio; Anderson, Sander and Russell. It will be interesting to see these three guys go at it in 2016. The road is still clear and USA can go all the way in the Olympics.

1. France, Men’s

01 - France M

France captured the hearts of every volleyball fan this year. They were the darlings of volleyball, at least for 2015. It was definitely an underdog story. Imagine, this team came from Division 2 (basically, the prize of the champion of Division 2 will play in the Division 1 Finals, and in the past years, usually the Division 2 champion can’t keep up with the other Division 1 teams). It was a Cinderella story. I kind of wanted this team to improve since before because they do have a lot of very good players. They finally found their rhythm this year and they were able to use their chemistry, individual strengths and their inner motivation to go all the way and win the championship.

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