A highly productive Nimir helped the Netherlands secure the last of eight spots in the VNL Finals

The three top scorers of the Volleyball Nations League 2022 Preliminary Phase will all be at the Finals after the Netherlands’ Nimir Abdel-Aziz, Iran’s Amin Esmaeilnezhad and Japan’s Yuji Nishida helped their teams book tickets to compete in Bologna, Italy, from July 20-24.

The three teams will join hosts Italy, Poland, France, the United States and defending champions Brazil in the five-day tournament. It will bring the fourth edition of the VNL to an end after 96 Preliminary Phase matches played across six countries from June 7 to July 10.

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

For a second consecutive season, Dutch captain Nimir was the top scorer of the VNL Preliminary Phase. The 30-year-old opposite was on the court in 11 of his team’s 12 matches and reached the mark of 231 points scored, averaging 21 per match. He registered double digits in all of his appearances and had his most productive showing in a 3-1 victory against Germany in which he left the court with 31 points.

Nimir Abdel-Aziz Top Plays vs. Germany

Esmaeilnezhad and Nishida tied for second place with 193 points each. The Iranian had the bulk of his production in kills (169) to go with 11 blocks and 13 aces, while the Japanese had 156 kills, 27 aces and ten blocks.

Nimir was more than just the top scorer, however. He also led the hitting (191 kills) and serving (30 aces) tables, followed by Esmaeilnezhad and Nishida in the first category, and by the Japanese and his teammate Yuki Ishikawa (29 aces) in the second. He had 25 kills against Germany and six aces in the opening match of the last week of the Preliminary Phase, against China, in his best performances in each of these skills.

Bulgarian Svetoslav Gotsev had more block points than any other player, ending the Preliminary Phase with 35. The 31-year-old veteran averaged 2.92 points per match and had his best performance at the net against Australia, when he had seven stuffs. Brazil’s Flavio Gualberto (27) and Argentina's Agustin Loser (26), who was the top blocker of last year’s Tokyo Olympics, ranked second and third.

Another Bulgarian player, Georgi Seganov, led the setting table with the most successful actions at 301. The European finished ahead of Brazil captain and Rio 2016 Olympic champion Bruno Rezende, who had 299 successful sets, but a significantly higher efficiency rate (39.66% to 33.59%).

French Olympic champion Antoine Brizard could arguably be considered the most efficient of the setters that competed in the Preliminary Phase of the VNL. Since he split his time on the court with team captain Benjamin Toniutti, his successful sets total was relatively low at 194, but his efficiency rate was the highest among the players in the position at 45.75%.


Brizard led France to victory against Brazil with 24 successful sets

Argentinean libero Santiago Danani was the most active and productive player on the backcourt. The 26-year-old featured in each of Argentina’s 12 matches and ranked first in both digs, with 117 (9.75 per match), and successful passes, with 87 (7.25 per match).

Danani outperformed Japan’s Tomohiro Yamamoto (101) and Germany’s Julian Zenger (100) to finish top of the digs table and did better than Australia’s Lorenzo Pope (75) and Zenger (74) to be the player with the most passes.