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The 5 Best Male Defenders of the Major Series

27.05.2020 - Vienna, Austria

Digging balls is probably the hardest task in men’s beach volleyball. Considering the ever-growing size, power and skill level of hitters around the world, it’s almost a miracle when a ball doesn’t touch the sand directly after a spike and play continues.

The five guys listed here have somehow managed to be among those who constantly deny opponents a direct point. More than that, they’ve become defensive experts in the game of beach volleyball and, using the widest variety of techniques and styles, they’ve established themselves as the best defenders of the Beach Major Series.

Bruno Schmidt


The Brazilian is nicknamed ‘The Magician’ for a number of reasons and one of them is certainly his defensive game. A master of the backcourt, the Rio 2016 Olympic champion possesses unmatched ball control technique and he absolutely uses every drop of it to the benefit of his team. Bruno had the privilege of playing behind some massive blockers such as Alison Cerutti and Evandro Goncalves over the last few years, but his great positioning and reading of the game proved essential to the progress of both duos. The 2015 world champion is one of those defenders who seem to always be at the right place at the right time. Unsurprisingly, the 33-year-old veteran is the only men to win the World Tour Best Defensive Player award in four consecutive seasons, between 2013 and 2016, and he also took home the Most Outstanding Player award in the last two of them.


Christian Sørum


The Norwegian’s ice-cold mentality in the court is certainly one of the factors that make of him one of the best defenders in the world. The reigning World Tour Best Defensive Player award winner, Sørum is the type of defender who won’t be bothered when a hard-hit spike is coming his way or a well-placed shot is going the opposite direction. A very cerebral player, he always keeps his calm and focuses on the play ahead of him. The 24-year-old European has developed a very successful defensive style, which consists of frequently moving in opposite directions in the back of the court in order to confuse the opposing hitter about which area of the court he’ll be covering. Another thing that sets Sørum apart from most of the other defenders is his ability to convert in transition. More often than not, his digs are followed by a strong spike and end with another point for Norway in the scoreboard.   


Daniele Lupo


Daniele Lupo is hands down one of the funniest players to watch at the Beach Major Series. The Italian is ridiculously technically-gifted and has a very unique style to play beach volleyball at the highest level. His relaxed game style complements very well the one of his partner Paolo Nicolai as the duo went to win a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics and three European titles between 2014 and 2017. Most of what makes Lupo’s game so impressive is his unrivaled reaction speed, which allows the Italian to dig and save balls when it seemed already too late and to change directions in the sand in the blink of an eye. A great plus for the 30-year-old defender is that he drags a passionate Italian fanbase which sings one of the coolest beach volleyball chants everywhere he goes.


Guto Carvalhaes


If beach volleyball players ever get into a racing contest, make sure you put your money on Guto Carvalhaes. The 26-year-old Brazilian moves in the sand just as if he was walking over a concrete floor and his speed has made of him one of the best defenders at the Beach Major Series as the world noticed at the 2017 Poreč Major, when Pedro Solberg and him started the week on country-quota and ended it at the top of the podium. There’s no such a thing as a shot out of reach for the ‘Superboy’ and his restless mindset turned him in to one of the toughest defenders to get past. His great ball control gives him the ability of digging hard-hit spikes as well and makes of the Brazilian one of the most complete defenders on Tour.


Quem aí lembra dessa etapa?! A cidade/país que mais sinto falta no circuito mundial 🇭🇷❤️ Que energia!! Valeu @iamfromrio #Repost @iamfromrio with @make_repost ・・・ 🇧🇷TBT vai para Croácia 2017 🇺🇸TBT goes to Croatia - Poreč Major (Stop 2 of the Swatch Beach Volleyball Major Series 2017): Top Rally Saturday – Men. Alexander Horst @alexhorst10 and Clemens Doppler (AUT) @clemensdoppler vs. Gustavo Carvalhaes @gutocarvalhaes and Pedro Solberg (BRA) @pedro.solberg_ . Men's Quarterfinals, Saturday - 01.07.2017 ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #volley #volei #voleibol #volleyball #beachvolley #beachvolleyball #volleyballislife #volleyballplayer #voleidepraia #voleibol #sport #sun #beach #voli #volimania #voliindo #volleyballteam #volleyballgame #volleyballlove #volleylife #roadtotokyo #sportiply #cardio #tbt #throwback #throwbackthursday #voxxrio #digitalmarketing #tbtvolley #tbtvb

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Taylor Crabb


Taylor Crabb’s rise gave American beach volleyball a certain sense of relief as the 28-year-old Hawaiian has proven to be capable of filling part of the gap that will be left when one of the country’s greatest generation of defenders, which includes Olympians Nick Lucena, Sean Rosenthal and John Hyden, leaves the sport. The youngest of the Crabb brothers, Taylor, nicknamed ‘The Bug’, has found a great mentor in head coach Rich Lambourne, a defensive specialist who was an indoor Olympic champion himself as a libero, and grew his game immensely over the last few seasons. What makes Crabb’s defensive game so spectacular is that the American is not only a very clever player in the backcourt, especially with his amazing ability to anticipate opponents’ moves, but his digs are also more often than not highlight reel-worthy.      


Read More: 

The Five Best Male Blockers of the Major Series

The Five Best Female Blockers of the Major Series