The most iconic volleyball match of all time is the 1985 World Cup match between USA and USSR. At the very least, I think it could be and no one cares enough to argue with me. Either way, it is an objectionably great match with a great back story. Iconic matches are full of iconic players and this match is no exception. The American team contains Karch Kiraly and Steve Timmons. The Soviet team contains Vyacheslav Zaitsev and Aleksander Savin. But the interesting thing is that none of those players are the best players in this match.
Zaitsev certainly looks like he is controlling the action, and Savin has some great highlights and the best swagger, but the best Soviet player is clearly Yuri Pantchenko. Their best receiver, he is also the best point scorer (13 points + 28 sideouts), is the most effective attacker on the court (57%, more than any of the middles) and has a quiet six blocks.
Karch has some great moments in defence, and Timmons scores well playing as a middle, but the best American player is Pat Powers. By miles. 16 points + 38 sideouts, 54% in attack from 87 balls, plus the best blocker (Dvorak’s seven blocks is an anomaly, especially if you watch them here) and best server. Somehow even his twelve attack errors seem positively impactful.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Here are all 87 attacks. You can decide for yourself.
Other clips from this tournament, including this full match and a full match between USSR and Brazil are in this playlist.
A collection of 50 Coaching Tips can be found here.
For more great coaching tips, check out the Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.