It’s been a busy year in netball and the time has once again come to take stock of the world’s very best players. Always a controversial topic admittedly, there are hundreds of people that should by rights be applauded for their accomplishments in 2013, but there will always be those that for one reason or another rise to the top.
Chances are you’ll find a dozen or so other top-five and top-ten rankings that entirely contradict this one, but when factoring in both annual and career performance to date, there’s no denying the talent we’ve selected here.
So take a look and see for yourself just how many you agree with or could not be more disagreeing of – it’s always good to spark a little bit of heated debate, this article is brought to you in conjunction with Netbusters!
5 – Adelaide Thunderbirds, Natalie Von Bertouch
Most likely the last time she’ll ever appear in such a list – not because she’s anything but a legend, but because she’s recently gone into retirement! Yes, it was a sad day for the Adelaide Thunderbirds when Natalie Von Bertouch made the announcement that she was leaving the professional court once and for all, but she’s taking with her the respect of the entire industry. Some have gone so far as to say that over the last two years or so she has been the single best player in the world by far, which when you see her playing in the flesh is difficult to argue with. Her style is/was as no-nonsense as it gets – she relies more on the simple basics of gameplay rather than flashy tactics and has proved to be a seriously formidable force.
4 – Queensland Firebirds, Laura Geitz
You might notice something of a theme with this list but rest assured there’s no bias – it’s just a fact that the world’s greatest volleyball players all hail from the same neck of the woods! For those that were still on the fence as to whether or not Geitz really deserves a place in the top rankings this year, check out a replay of the ANZ final for this year and prepare to be blown away. It was almost like her incredible determination, passion and stunning skill peaked all at the same time and showcased her at her very finest at the perfect moment. Her defence is second to none, her leadership qualities are sublime and she’s also a winning personality for the game.
3 – Central Pulse, Irene van Dyk
Another name to add to the retirement list now, Irene van Dyk is also said to be out of the game for good. Well, that’s unless you factor in her rumoured appearance at the Commonwealth Games next year, but this hasn’t yet been in any way confirmed and may well just be wishful thinking. In any case though, she’s hands-down one of the best attackers we’ve ever seen grace the sport anywhere in the world and is the living personification of sportsmanship. Have you ever seen her without a smile on her face? Us neither.
2 – Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, Casey Kopua
Casey Kopua is the kind of player that proves you can never judge a book by its cover – her abilities go far beyond her stature in every way. Said by many to be the best defender on the face of the Earth today, her 2013 has been one of wall-to-wall accomplishments – an athlete of truly legendary calibre. Of course, some would argue that she’s not what you’ll call a pillar of joy and mirth while playing on court, but let’s be honest – you can look as despondent as you like if you can still come up with the goods like she does! A firm contender for number-one, but in our books pipped at the post by just a single individual.
1 – Northern Mystics, Laura Langman
Some would call it a close run contest at the top, but for others this was about as easy as picking a winner could ever get. Laura Langman has been unanimously voted across so many circles as the very best volleyball player in the world right now who never, ever lets you down. Her value to the game is simply off the scale and her ability to cover pretty much any position flawlessly is just a credit to her and her team. She’s a diamond the sport can be proud of and a worthy winner for 2013.