Top 6 Best Women's Indoor Volleyball Players Of All Time
Indoor volleyball is a sport that requires tremendous teamwork to achieve greatness. However, on any truly dominant team, there are at least a few players that stand out above the rest. Read on to learn about the very best players women’s indoor volleyball has ever seen.
Who Are the Top 6 Best Women's Indoor Volleyball Players of All Time?
- Regla Torres (Cuba)
- Lang Ping (China)
- Inna Ryskal (Russia)
- Mireya Luis (Cuba)
- Helia "Fofao" Pinto (Brazil)
- Fabiana Alvim (Brazil)
1. Regla Torres
- Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist
- Two-Time FIVB World Championships Gold Medalist
- Named Best Women’s Indoor Volleyball Player of the 20th Century
- Youngest Volleyball Olympic Gold medalist Ever
- Inducted into International Volleyball Hall of Fame (2001)
The greatest female indoor volleyball player of all time is undoubtedly Regla Torres. In her stellar career, Torres was the best player of one of the best teams in history, the Cuban National Team, that won three Olympic Gold Medals and two World Championships in a row. Justified by her achievements in the sport, Regla was elected by the FIVB as the Greatest Female Volleyball Player of the 20th Century.
Torres’s volleyball career started early, and at the age of 16, she was already playing for Cuba's senior team. Her athletic and agile play clearly matured fast, and, at just 17, she won her first of three Olympic gold medals. Two years later, Cuba won the FIVB World Championships, and Torres was elected as the tournament's MVP. Cuba continued to dominate at winning gold medals for her term as well as individual awards along the way.
Torres's talent and overall completeness in the sport of volleyball can be seen through her many awards. She has won individual awards in many disciplines, such as serving, receiving, spiking, and blocking. By the end of her career, Regla Torres had conquered 14 international medals, of which an impressive 11 were gold. Torres's career was filled with both individual and team success, a balance that some all-time great athletes never achieve. Nonetheless, she was the greatest among the greats, and Regla Torres's awards and medals speak for themselves.
2. Lang Ping
- Olympic Gold Medalist
- Conquered international volleyball's triple crown, winning the Olympics, the FIVB World Cup, and the FIVB World Championships
- Inducted into International Volleyball Hall of Fame (2002)
- First Player to Win Olympic Gold Medals as Both Player and Coach
Lang Ping, popularly known as the "Iron Hammer," was a vicious player who was known for her power, wit, and athleticism. This combination turned her into one of the greatest volleyball players of all time. A true leader on the court, Ping was captain of the Chinese National team that won the country's first Olympic gold medal in volleyball, and she was elected by the FIVB as that Olympics' MVP.
Lang’s leadership traits would also be seen later in her career as a coach. In 1985, Lang Ping and China won the FIVB World Cup, and she was elected the tournament's MVP. Immediately after, Lang retired to start a coaching career. She was only 25 at the time, the beginning of her prime. Lang would still come back a few years later to win a silver medal at the 1990 World Championships held in China.
3. Inna Ryskal
- Four-Time Olympic Medalist
- Three-Time FIVB World Championship Medalist
- Inducted into International Volleyball Hall of Fame
- Winner of the FIVB Outstanding Achievement in World Volleyball Award
Inna Ryskal was the best player on the most dominant women's volleyball team during the 1970s, the USSR national team. Inna started playing for the senior national team in 1961 at just 16 years old. It didn't take long for Inna Ryskal to find success on the court as she was part of the USSR team that finished second in the FIVB's 1962 World Championship. Throughout her career, she would win another silver and one gold in 1974 and 1970, respectively. Those World Championships are only a part of Inna's and the USSR's many glories during the 1960s and 1970s. The team would take the court not to beat but rather to dominate opponents in a playing style based purely on powerful attacking. The team's strategy was highly reliant on Inna’s power and she thus became its centerpiece.
Due to her ruthless attacking ability, she became known as the "Caspian Thunderstorm." In Japan, she won her first Olympic medal, a silver, after losing to the host team. However, four years later, the USSR would have their revenge and defeat Japan in the final, winning the gold. She and her team would go on to repeat those victories, winning two gold and two silver medals in later Olympics, more than any other female volleyball player ever.
4. Mireya Luis
- Three-Time Olympic Gold Medalist (1992, 1996, 2000)
- Two-Time MVP in the FIVB World Cup
- MVP of the 1992 Olympic Games
- Won 16 International Medals
- Member of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame (2004)
Mireya Luis can easily be called a volleyball prodigy. By the age of 15, she was already a starter on the Cuban Women's National Volleyball Team. It was one of the greatest teams in history, and Mireya was fundamental to its success. Mireya and some of her teammates are the only female volleyball players that have won three Olympic gold medals. The Cuban team was dominant all throughout the 1990s, winning two FIVB World Championships and finishing second once. She also accumulated titles in Grand Prix competitions, World Cups, and the Pan American Games. Mireya also collected many individual awards, such as MVP, Best Scorer, and Best Spiker awards.
Attacking and spiking were definitely Mireya's strengths. At only 5’10, many wouldn't even think that Mireya could be a volleyball player, much less one of the best in history. However, she had a once-in-a-generation jump, breaking several vertical jump records. With such athleticism and scoring ability, the Cuban team relied heavily on Mireya Luis for scoring. Outside of the court, the volleyball player was also an MVP, always serving as a role model and as an idol in her country.
5. Helia "Fofao" Pinto
- First Volleyball Player to Compete in Five Olympic Games
- Olympic Gold medalist
- 21 International Medals with Brazil
- 33 Club Medals
- Inducted into International Volleyball Hall of Fame
Helia Souza, nicknamed Fofao, had one of the most brilliant careers in volleyball history. Fofao is a player that found success at every stage of her career, winning titles with her national team in every country where she played. After retiring from the Brazilian National Team, Fofao kept playing at the club level in Brazil. In 2015, at 45 years old, she won her third title in the Brazilian league and was crowned the finals MVP. She won over 20 individual awards, mainly MVPs and Best Setter Awards. Those included two Best Setter distinctions in the Olympics and many more at Grand Prix competitions.
Fofao has ten Grand Prix Medals and seven golds, a competition record. However, there is one gold medal missing from Fofao's collection; she never won the FIVB World Championships, finishing with silver twice. Nonetheless, that doesn't make her career any less brilliant or Fofao anything short of legendary. Her abilities as a setter, her medals, and her consistent success during her long-lasting career all speak for themselves, and Fofao is a must-have in any discussion of women’s volleyball greats.
6. Fabiana Alvim
- Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist
- Olympic Best Libero
- 25 International Medals
- Won 18 Individual Awards
- Ten-Time Superliga Feminina Champion
Fabiana Alvim, or simply Fabi, is a major reason why Brazil is a two-time Olympic Women’s Volleyball champion. Fabi was not only an exceptional player but also a remarkable leader whom players looked up to. Wildly successful throughout her career, Fabiana is widely regarded as the best libero of all time. She had unmatched defensive talents, which propelled her to success and were always an important part of her team's success, regardless of where she was. As a defensive specialist, her greatness can be seen through her individual awards. Although she was rarely elected a tournament's MVP, she was constantly named Best Libero or Best Receiver.
In addition to her Olympic Golds, Alvim has five Grand Prix Titles, three silvers, and two World Championships silver medals. At the club level, Fabi Alvim is one of the Brazilian League's most remarkable and famous players. By staying in Brazil for the entirety of her career, she became beloved by volleyball fans all around Brazil and got admiration from fan bases across the globe. Being considered the greatest of all time in something is not easy. Yet, Fabi Alvim is constantly being called the best libero ever. No one can erase her story in the sport, and thus she is one of volleyball's greatest players ever.
- Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist
- Seven-Time World Grand Prix Gold Medalist
- Seven-Time South American Championship Gold Medalist
- Two-Time FIVB World Grand Prix MVP
Over the course of her career, Sheila Castro has been a prolific winner in just about every competition she has entered. With two Olympic gold medals and an MVP in one, Castro was a stalwart for the Brazilian team. Outside of Olympic play, she amassed countless gold medals in events like the World Grand Prix, twice securing a victory in this tournament as well, and the South American Championship. In fact, Castro has actually never experienced a South American Championship in which her team did not secure a gold medal. Instead, her team won an astonishing seven times in a row.
At 6’1”, Castro was a natural choice to play opposite spiker. This placement was also validated with a Best Opposite Spike distinction in the 2016 FIVB World Grand Prix. She was a prolific offensive player, using her height to torment opponents with spikes. Castro netted Best Scorer distinctions in both the FIVB World Championships Cup and the FIVB Club World Championships (2005 and 2012, respectively).
- Olympic Bronze Medalist
- Five-time FIVB World Grand Prix Dream Team Setter
- 1994 FIVB World Grand Prix MVP
- Three-time FIVB World Grand Prix Gold Medalist
- Five-time FIVB World Grand Prix Best Setter
Fernanda Venturini was a force for the Brazilian national team and one of the best setters women’s indoor volleyball has ever seen. She was named to five different dream teams for the World Grand Prix and also secured the best setter in each of these years. Part of the reason it may be easy to overlook Venturini is her lack of Olympic success compared to her Brazilian counterparts, with only one Olympic appearance in 1996. That year, she helped Brazil achieve a bronze medal finish.
Venturini earned the honor of being featured on the FIVB’s “Best Player of the 20th Century” poll. Although she didn’t win this distinction, just placing on this poll is in itself a tremendous testament to her body of work on the volleyball court. It could be argued that her crowning achievement in indoor volleyball was being named the 1994 World Grand Prix’s MVP. That year, she was a key cog in a Brazilian team that took home the gold medal.
Who has the most Olympic medals in women’s indoor volleyball?
The record for the most Olympic medals in women’s indoor volleyball is held by two different players. Both Inna Ryskal and Anna Fernàndez have a cumulative total of four Olympic medals throughout their careers. Ryskal accomplished this feat while playing for the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1976, taking home two gold medals and two silver medals. Fernàndez, on the other hand, did so more recently from 1992 to 2004, bringing home three gold medals and one bronze medal playing for the Cuban team.
Who was the youngest player to win an Olympic gold medal in women’s indoor volleyball?
Regla Torres is the youngest Olympian to win a gold medal in women’s indoor volleyball at the age of only seventeen. She accomplished this with the Cuban national team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Torres was a valuable part of this team, even at a young age, and this was only her first taste of success on the international stage. In the following years, she would go on to win two more gold medals at the Olympics in 1996 and 2000, among other recognitions.
Who won the Olympic gold medal for women’s indoor volleyball in 2020?
At the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the United States women’s team won their first ever gold medal in indoor volleyball. While the U.S. had previously found success at beach volleyball, the indoor team had never won a gold medal since volleyball’s addition to the Olympic program in 1964. The United States defeated volleyball powerhouse Brazil in three straight sets. The team’s captain, Jordan Larson, led the way via excellent play on both offense and defense, leading to her being selected as the tournament’s MVP.