The best of the best from the Men's European Olympic Qualifiers
There was only one ticket to Tokyo, and all eight teams showed how much they wanted to go to the Olympics with vigor, talent, and team spirit. After a thrilling tournament, France magnificently earned their spot after beating hosts Germany in the final, but let us announce the dream team.
Setter: Lukas Kampa
Out of all the setters competing in Berlin, the consistency of Lukas Kampa, who carried Germany through to the final thanks to his determination and commitment, was recognised by the CEV. With more than 60% in efficiency, the setter of Jastrzębski Węgiel is the first player of this dream team. Let us however note that Antoine Brizard shocked the world of volleyball by turning down France’s 0-2, 4-8 deficit in the third set against Slovenia in the semifinals, to finally win the tournament as a starter in the line-up.
Many middle blockers could have made it to the roster, as no fewer than 255 blocks overall were made in the tournament, making it a 17-block-per-game ratio. But the two that were selected in the dream team were:
Middle Blocker: Viktor Yosifov
Bulgarian Viktor Yosifov, who aced ten times in the tournament, which is outstanding for a middle blocker. The semifinalists’ captain fell close of bringing his team to the final after a stunning pool phase during which the Lions beat the Netherlands, Serbia, and France.
Middle Blocker: Nicolas Le Goff
Winner Nicolas Le Goff, who proved decisive in key moments, whether in attacking or blocking actions. Among all his great plays during the tournament, he finished off the job against Slovenia after France’s unbelievable comeback.
Following up on this remarkable quality among European players, most outside hitters showed tremendous willpower to bring their team to the top. Among them were Todor Skrimov, Tine Urnaut, Yacine Louati, Christian Fromm, Uros Kovacevic, or Klemen Cebulj, but the two players who made it to the dream team were:
Outside Hitter: Denys Kaliberda
Runner-up Denys Kaliberda, who averaged 20% in perfect reception throughout the tournament, while totaling six blocks and 34 kills.
Outside Hitter: Earvin Ngapeth
French star Earvin Ngapeth – one of the most complete players this week with 51 spikes, eight blocks, and a very high receiving efficiency – closed out the Tokyo qualifier with his eighth ace before releasing all the pressure and yielding to tears.
Libero: Jenia Grebennikov
An accustomed player of these honours is Jenia Grebennikov, who proved once more that he is definitely one of the best liberos in the world. Beyond his impeccable overall reception and his momentous defenses, France’s back-row specialist always believed in his team’s capacity to make it, ever cheering and encouraging, even when trailing behind. It is no surprise he has made it to the dream team roster.
Opposite: Jean Patry
To conclude, the strong man of this dream team of the tournament is Jean Patry. Always in the shadow of Stephen Boyer in the past three years, Top Volley Latina’s opposite proved his worth in this qualifying tournament by ending up being the best scorer with 85 points. A surprise for most opponents, who were used to Boyer, but whom Laurent Tillie used perfectly as an ace in the hole. Out of all this quality, France’s head coach will need to determine the only twelve players who will try to claim a first Olympic title for France.