Looking back: 2018 Club Worlds MVP Aaron Russell following in legend’s footsteps


Trentino’s Aaron Russell rejoices during the final against Lube

Lausanne, Switzerland, December 31, 2018 – His performance at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship earned Trentino Volley's Aaron Russell an MVP award as his club cruised to a fifth title in the history of the competition.

In the gold medal match played on December 2 in Czestochowa, Russell topped the scorers’ chart with 20 points, including one ace and one stuff block. He was also the best scorer for Trentino in their most difficult game of the pool stage, tallying 24 points in their four-set victory over Brazil’s Sada Cruzeiro Contagem. The 25-year-old outside hitter finished sixth in the overall scorers ranking with a total of 68 points.

Aaron Russell receives the MVP award

Statistically, the US international was the best spiker of the tournament on a remarkable 59.62% success rate in attack.

Russell was only the second American to claim the MVP honour in the history of the Men’s Club World Championship after the legendary Karch Kiraly claimed the prize in 1991.

The competition's Dream Team included three other Trentino players. 22-year-old Italian Simone Giannelli was in the setter position, matching his #1 ranking in the best setters statistics. Trentino's talented playmaker and captain also finished fifth among the best servers and seventh among the best blockers of the tournament.

After topping both the best diggers and the best receivers charts, French libero Jenia Grebennikov was rightfully included in the Dream Team. “We showed that we can play volleyball on a high level,” he commented after the awarding ceremony. “I do not count how many titles of the best libero I have, but it's always nice to be recognized. I train all the time to stay on a high level and to help my teammates.”

Finally 25-year-old Serbian Uros Kovacevic took one of the two outside hitter vacancies on the Dream Team. He was runner-up in the best spikers ranking, second only to MVP Russell, as well as the #1 scorer for Trentino and #5 overall on a record of 73 points, including eight aces, which placed him fourth in the serving stats. Kovacevic was also sixth in both the best diggers and the best receivers rankings.

The MVP and the Dream Team of the Club World Championship

Silver medallists Cucine Lube Civitanova of Italy also had three of their athletes on the Dream Team. Tsvetan Sokolov was chosen as the team's opposite. He was close to claiming a record third top scorer title at the Club World Championships, but fell three points short of the first place, finishing second with a tally of 78 points. The Bulgarian standout finished runner-up in the best spikers ranking as well.

Both middle blockers of the Dream Team also came from Lube. Cuban-born Robertlandy Simon earned the honour for the third time in the history of the Club World Championships. He was by far the best blocker of the tournament in Poland, but he was also the third best server and the ninth best overall scorer on 65 points. His teammate and captain, 33-year-old Dragan Stankovic, was the most experienced member of the Dream Team. The Serbian middle blocker was third in the individual blocking ranking.

Fakel Novy Urengoy contributed one player to the Dream Team - the 23-year-old captain of the Russian national team Dmitry Volkov. He took the other vacancy in the outside hitter position after also winning the same prize at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. With 77 points to his name, just one short of Sokolov, Volkov finished fourth among the best scorers. He also came fifth among the best spikers.

It was another member of the Fakel team, Belarusian opposite Artur Udrys who collected a total of 81 points (71 spikes, 8 blocks, 2 aces) to become the best scorer of the Club World Championship. 25-year-old French outside hitter Thibault Rossard of Poland’s Asseco Resovia Rzeszow fired a total of 12 aces, or an average of 0.63 per set to top the best server ranking.


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