A 2nd-straight World Championship title meant a 2nd-straight MVP award for Poland at the FIVB Volleyball World Championships. This time, it was 30-year old opposite Bartosz Kurek who earned the honor after a phenomenal 24-point, 20-for-29 hitting, 2 block, 2 ace performance in the gold medal match over Brazil.
Kurek wasn’t on the Polish roster in 2014 when they beat Brazil 3-1 for the title, but as part of a Polish group that doesn’t have the superstars of Italy, France, Russia, or the USA, he was a key component to this year’s title run.
One might argue that Michal Kubiak proved himself as Poland’s MVP – when he’s been on the court this summer, they’ve been almost unbeatable, and when he’s been off it, wins have been hard to find. But, without the ability to have tested the same hypothesis on Kubiak, the honor goes to the man that dominated the championship match.
In spite of only being a 3-setter, Kurek became the first player since Brazil’s Nalbert Bitencourt in 2002 to record 20 kills in a Men’s Volleyball World Championship match. His 171 points were the most in the tournament among all teams that advanced at least to the Final 6.
List of World Championship MVPs since the introduction of the award in 1986:
• 1986, Paris: Philippe Blain (France)
• 1990, Rio de Janeiro: Andrea Luchetta (Italy)
• 1994, Piraeus: Lorenzo Bernardi (Italy)
• 1998, Tokyo: Rafael Pascual (Spain)
• 2002, Buenos Aires: Marcos Milinkovic (Argentina)
• 2006, Tokyo: Gilberto ‘Giba’ Amauri de Godoy Filho (Brazil)
• 2010, Rome: Murilo Endres (Brazil)
• 2014, Katowice: Mariusz Wlazly (Poland)
• 2018, Turin: Bartosz Kurek (Poland)
The rest of the tournament Dream Team was focused on teams that advanced to at least the semi-finals. Kurek was joined in the squad by 4 of his Polish teammates, including the aforementioned Kubiak at outside hitter. Silver medalists Brazil earned 2 honors (Douglas Souza at outside hitter, Lucas Saatkamp at middle blocker), while bronze medalists the USA had 2 players included (opposite Matt Anderson, setter Micah Christenson).
- MVP: Bartosz Kurek (POL)
- Outside hitters: Michal Kubiak (POL) & Douglas Souza (BRA)
- Middle blockers: Lucas Saatkamp (BRA) & Piotr Nowakowski (POL)
- Opposite: Matt Anderson (USA)
- Setter: Micah Christenson (USA)
- Libero: Pawel Zatorski (POL)
Serbia, the 4th-place finishers, were shut out of the awards. At the last edition, in 2014, 4th-place France still got a spot on the Dream Team via libero Jenia Grebennikov, players came from 7 nations in 2010, and 5 nations had players chosen in 2006, so limiting this year’s team to just the top 3 nations is not on-trend with past editions.
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