13.05.2020 - Vienna, Austria
Blocking is one of the coolest skills in beach volleyball. The feeling of stopping an opponent’s attempt to put the ball on your court is one of the greatest feelings beach volleyball players enjoy on the court – and the same can certainly be said about the fans who go bonkers in the stands every time our ‘Major Block’ clip is played.
Here at the Beach Major Series we’ve been fortunate to watch the best blockers in the planet competing in our events for the last five years, so the task of picking the top five in that skill was a very tough one. We used a few stats here and went with our own criteria to put this list together, so don’t take it so seriously and don’t get mad if your favorite player didn’t make it, ok?
The first name in the list could very well be the most intriguing one. The Italian has appeared in just two Beach Major Series tournaments between 2018 and 2019, but his performances in the very first events and the phenomenal nickname ‘The Net Patroller’ earned him a place in our list. His team with Adrian Carambula was on fire when the Series kicked off back in 2015 and their unforgettable run from the qualifiers to a win a bronze medal in Poreč that season wouldn’t have materialized without Ranghieri’s absolutely dominant game at the net. The muscular, 2m-tall blocker scored 48 blocking points in that tournament, the second-highest mark for any player in a single event, and has an impressive average of 26 blocking points per Beach Major Series tournament (312 points total in 12 events), the third-best when compared to the other players in this list. In one of his most recent appearances in the Series, he registered amazing 14 points in a single match, when Marco Caminati and him eliminated then-world champions Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola of Brazil from the 2018 Fort Lauderdale Major.
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The Brazilian has been one of the best blockers in the world for the last decade and couldn’t be out of this list. One of the most athletic players to ever compete internationally, the ‘Mammoth’ used his blocking ability extensively on his way to win the most important results of his career, in a list that includes gold and silver medals at the Olympics, two World Championships and, of course, four Beach Major Series golds. At 2.02m, the Brazilian knows better than anyone how to use his length and his technique to bother his opponents and that led him to be in the top-five in blocking points in ten of the 18 events he competed at in the Series. Alison has compiled as many as 457 blocking points in those tournaments, the second-most among the men, and averages 25.39 points per event. He’s also been very consistent over the years as he registered 38 blocking points to win Majors in Gstaad in 2015 and Poreč in 2016 with Bruno Schmidt, but topped that amount with a 39-point performance in that skill when Alvaro Filho and him secured silver as the 2019 Vienna Major. And most of the time, his celebrations are just as nice as the points.
If there was somewhat of a blocking revolution in the men’s game over the last couple of years please credit it to Anders Mol. The Norwegian star quickly became a game-changer in the sport and a force to reckon at the net with his unique blocking technique. Mol’s strategy to go really low at the net before jumping to block has added another layer of difficulty to those who try to challenge his block. The Viking made a great impression in his first Beach Major Series appearance as he scored 34 blocking points at the 2016 Klagenfurt Major, the second-most in the entire tournament, but not many people would expect him to amass as many as 342 in just ten events despite of his undeniable ability at the net. The only player to average more than 30 points per tournament (34.2), the Norwegian blocked his opponents impressive 49 times during the 2019 World Championships, the most any player has ever scored at the net in a Beach Major Series event, and seems on his way to increase those numbers exponentially being just 22.
Paolo Nicolai’s game is mostly noticed by the damage he causes from the service line, but don’t sleep on the fact that the Italian can also hurt his opponents at the net. And he does it over and over again. At 2.03m, the Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist is one of the best blockers in the international game due to his long arms and his fantastic ability to read of the game. Nicolai has been a stud in front of longtime partner Daniele Lupo at the net and he ranks third in blocking points scored at the Beach Major Series with 438. The Italian missed just three of the 21 events of the Series so far, averaging 24.33 points scored with the skill per tournament. The Ortona-native was the best blocker of the 2017 World Tour Finals in Hamburg, when he scored 27 points, but his best performance at the net happened the next season, when he had 49 points at the Gstaad Major, the most ever registered in the Series.
Father Time remains undefeated, but if someone is trying to challenge it in beach volleyball that’s Phil Dalhausser. At 40, the veteran American is still one of the best players in the world and much of it is due to the fantastic blocking game that became his trademark over the years. A gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Thin Beast has been the top blocker of five Beach Major Series events, one in each season between 2015 and 2019, in a statement of his longevity and greatness. Known by his great timing at the net, Dalhausser has scored a total of 459 blocking points in 16 events, more than any other player in the entire Series, including 44 at the 2018 Fort Lauderdale Major and the 2019 Vienna Major, his best individual tournaments at the net. Averaging 28.69 blocking points per tournament, the American only ranks behind Mol in the list but his impact at the net goes well beyond the points he scores as his ability to alter the way opponents hit the ball has led to several easy digging opportunities to his partners.