15.07.2020 - Vienna, Austria
The objective of the game of beach volleyball is, simply put, to get the ball to touch the opponent’s court and while there are multiple ways to do it, most of them involve attacking it somehow. Be it with stunning power or jaw-dropping finesse, beach volleyball players around the world work extensively in refining their crafts on offense.
A hard hit that bounces super high and a well-placed shot count the same in the score, so at the end of the day what matters is how effective you can be at the net regardless of which strategy you picked.
These five ladies, in no specific order, have been right at the top when it comes to hitting at the Beach Major Series.
April is a modern, multifaceted player, but if there’s one element that stands out in every aspect of her game is her aggressiveness. A two-time Olympic medalist, the American doesn’t hold anything back when it’s about scoring a point, be it from the service line or at the net, two areas in which she’s among the best in the planet. Unsurprisingly, she was considered the World Tour’s Best Hitter in 2009, when she also took home the Best Offensive Player award, and 2011. Over the last few years, we also saw on several occasions at the Beach Major Series how April is ruthless at the net. The 2016 season stood out in that regard as she registered more kills than any other player at both the Hamburg (127) and Gstaad (111) Majors. She did it again in the following year by converting 119 of her hitting attempts at the World Championship, where Lauren Fendrick and her took silver.
Duda’s time with the beach volleyball elite hasn’t been that long by now, but she didn’t need a lot of it to show what she was about anyways. At the beginning of 2017, when she was just 18, the Brazilian prodigy notched impressive 142 kills at the Fort Lauderdale Major, her first international tournament with Agatha Bednarczuk. Under the guidance of the Olympic medalist, she has quickly evolved into one of the most lethal hitters in the sport, combining the power of her youth age with the smartness of a veteran she’s yet to become. Duda is wise beyond her years and that shows on her offensive game as she’s the kind of hitter who rarely picks the wrong solution to score a point at the net. Her attacking performance reached its peak between 2018 and 2019, when she became the World Tour’s Best Hitter and Best Offensive Player.
Kerri has been absolutely dominant at the net during the entirety of her illustrious beach career. Be it blocking or hitting, her size has proven to be nearly unsurmountable for all of the opponents who crossed her path during what’s now a 20-year span. The 1.91m-tall veteran has always made the best possible use of every element of her game and that's very much true when hitting the ball. The three-time Olympic and world champion has a considerable height advantage against most of the opponents she battles at the net, which allows her to just hit the ball hard time and time again, but despite of that she always goes with the simpler and most efficient option to score, even if it is a pokey in an open net. That approach rewarded her with five World Tour Best Hitter (2005, 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2016) awards and two Best Offensive Player (2007 and 2014) trophies.
There were moments between 2015 and 2017 when Kira was literally unstoppable at the net. During the physical peak of her career, the German was an absolute beast and serving her didn’t seem to be a good idea at all. As by her side there was another phenomenal hitter in Laura Ludwig, some teams were forced to take their chances, but the result wasn’t typically good for them. At 1.84m, Kira was not only athletic enough to be a nightmare at the net but she was also skilled and smart enough to balance hard hits with shots wisely, becoming unpredictable on offense. She had the highest hitting success rate at the Rio 2016 Olympics with 64% and was considered the Best Hitter of the 2017 World Tour season, the same year when she scored 96 points in attacks as Laura and her triumphed at the World Championship in Vienna.
Talita is a well-oiled scoring machine. For several seasons she has been targeted by her opponents from the service line and in all of them she answered accordingly. The Brazilian had to develop a diverse offensive game to not run out of options after being repeatedly tested at the net but what makes of her an elite hitter is her consistency. Her line shot is legendary, but given the number of alternatives she has in her arsenal, defenders never know when she’s going to use it. The veteran registered more kills than any other player in several of the most important tournaments of the last five years, including the Rio 2016 Olympics, the 2015 and 2017 Gstaad Majors and the 2017 Hamburg World Tour Finals. That’s why she was the World Tour Best Hitter in three consecutive seasons between 2013 and 2015 and was also the Best Offensive Player in the first of them.