Volleyball is a team sport that requires six players on the court per team. It has come a long way from “Mintonette,” a game that William G. Morgan in 1895 came up with four years after the invention of basketball. What was meant to be a game for older gentlemen to remain active without the physicality of basketball has turned out to be a very popular game.
In recent years, professional volleyball has taken the flight to become one of the world’s most famous sports, raking in millions in endorsements and advertising deals. Games are televised and have garnered millions in followers. As a result, volleyball players are getting more lucrative deals from teams around the world, making them some of the richest professional players in sports.
10 Gabrielle Reece
American volleyball player Gabrielle Reece is one of the most popular faces of the sport. She started playing volleyball when she was in high school and got into Florida State University on a sports scholarship. She was one of the best players of beach volleyball in the 1990s, having won in the Women's Beach Volleyball League, Beach Volleyball Championships, and the 2000 Olympic Challenge.
Along with her volleyball profession, her modeling career took off. She is now an actress, sports announcer, model, and professional volleyball player. She is making an annual salary of $1.8 million and has an estimated net worth of $10 million.
9 Zhu Ting
Chinese professional player Zhu Ting is earning around $1.6 million a year playing for VakıfBank Istanbul. She joined the Turkish League Champions team in 2016 and has since become one of the world’s top outside hitters. She is also the captain of the Chinese National Team.
Zhu Ting helped China get the gold in the 2015 World Cup as well as in the 2016 Olympic Games. She was named the Most Valuable Player in the 2018 FIVB World Cup tournament held in Japan. She has currently decided to end her stay with the Turkish team to go back to China and train for the 2020 Olympics.
8 Wilfredo Leon
One of the youngest players in the male professional volleyball world is also one of the top-paid players. Wilfredo Leon was part of the professional Russian club Zenit Kazan in 2017 where he made approximately $1.4 million last year at only 24-years old. He is currently playing for Sir Safety Perugia.
He has played for the Cuban National Team in the past but has been recently tapped to play for Poland, made possible by his Polish citizenship. The Polish team won the World Championship in 2018 and adding Leon to their roster only strengthens their bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.
7 Katerina Gamova
Russian professional volleyball player Katerina Gamova has made her country proud with the number of golds she brought from different tournaments. At 6-feet 8-inches tall, she is one of the tallest players around. She helped the Russian national team get silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and again at Athens in 2004.
In both 2006 and 2010, she got gold at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship and was named MVP as well. She has played with different clubs in the past but is currently with Russian team Dinamo Kazan. Gamova gets approximately $1.4 million as an annual salary.
6 Earvin N’Gapeth
French superstar Earvin N’Gapeth is part of the richest volleyball group in the world with an income of $1.35 million per season. He made his professional volleyball debut in 2008 with Tours VB. N’Gapeth helped his team win the French Cup during his rookie year. He stayed with Tours for three seasons and helped the team win three French Cups and the French Championship.
His move to the Modena club was also fruitful. He helped the team win two Italian Supercups, two Italian Cups, and in the 2015-2016 season won the Italian Championship. In 2018, N’Gapeth signed with Russian club Zenit Kazan where he became one of the world’s top-paid volleyball players.
5 Logan Maile Lei Tom
California native Logan Maile Lei Tom is the youngest American volleyball player to play in the Olympics. She debuted at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when she was only 19-years old. This indoor and beach volleyball star was active in sports throughout her high school years. She went to Stanford University and graduated in 2014.
This outside hitter is a 4-time Olympian and won silver at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and at the London Olympics in 2012. Tom has played for many professional teams, including clubs in Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Indonesia, and New Zealand. She is currently one of the world’s richest volleyball players with an annual net worth of $1 million.
4 Bartosz Kurek
Polish professional volleyball player Bartosz Kurek is one of the stars of the national volleyball team of Poland. He originally started out playing basketball but moved on to volleyball. He helped his team win gold at the European Volleyball Championships in 2009 and the FIVB Volleyball World League in 2012.
This outside hitter has participated in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games. He was named the Best Scorer and MVP at the 2018 FIVB World Championship where he led the Polish team to a gold finish as well. He recently transferred to Italian club Vero Volley Monza, and his estimated net worth is at $1 million.
3 Sheilla Castro
This Brazilian volleyball player has had a very decorated career. She helped the Brazilian national squad win the gold at the 2006 and 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix. Among her most notable achievements with the Brazilian national team are the gold finishes at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. She is a recipient of multiple individual awards, including best outside spiker, best opposite, and MVP.
She played with Turkish team Vakifbank from the 2014-2016 seasons. Castro took a break from volleyball but has recently announced that she has signed on for Minas Tênis Clube – Vôlei. With an estimated annual salary of $1.16 million, she is considered one of the richest volleyball players in the world.
2 Jordan Larson
American Jordan Larson is a decorated volleyball player who currently plays with Turkish team Eczacibasi Vatra. She is also a member of the national volleyball team of the USA and helped the team win silver at the 2012 Olympics, gold at the 2014 World Championships, bronze at the 2015 World Cup, and bronze at the 2016 Olympics.
Larson is the recipient of multiple individual awards, including the best receiver, best scorer, best blocker, and MVP in the various tournaments she has participated in. Her estimated earnings are at $1.2 million, which puts her among the highest-paid volleyball players today.
1 Tatiana Kosheleva
Russian professional volleyball player Tatiana Kosheleva rounds up our list of the world’s richest players in the sport. She has played with different Russian clubs where she helped her team win the gold at the World Championship in 2010, gold in European Championship in 2013 where she also got the MVP award and another gold at the 2015 European Championship.
In 2016, she played for a foreign team for the first time, signing up with Eczacibasi Vatra where her estimated annual salary is at $1 million. She recently announced that she will not join the Russian National Team for the 2019 World Cup and the Qualification Tournament for the 2020 Olympic Games to devote some time for resting and recovery after her 2018 ACL injury.