The 1990 World Championships is often written about as a battle between two opposites for the twin titles of World Champion and Best Player in the World. Both Italian Andrea Zorzi (‘Zorro’) and Cuba Joel Despaigne (‘El Diablo). Both players were at the peak of their powers and the dominant players of their respective teams.
Zorzi finished with 11 points and 37 sideouts, for a total of 48. In attack, he hit 44/63, which is 70% kills. He added a quiet two aces and two blocks.
Despaigne finished with 7 points and 36 sideouts, for a total of 43. In attack he hit 41/73, 56% kills with a block and two aces.
Italy won the match and Zorzi had better stats and both could call themselves World Champions**.
The individual battle was huge. One often hears that in the ‘old days’ the game was more technical and that nowadays players rely only on power. There are 83 clips in the following video. There is exactly one (1) tip. And one other attack you could possibly call off pace. The rest of them are pure power, a firework display of highest magnitude and quality. And if you listen carefully you can hear Despaigne’s famous scream as he rips the ball.
**An earlier version of this article stated that Zorzi won the tournament MVP. He did not. That was won by his teammate Andrea Lucchetta. Full award winners can be found here.
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