Annual Shoe & Gear Review

Rosie Terrell
Asics Gel Volleycross 3

VBM TEST CENTER: SHOES

ASICS GEL Volleycross 3

Featured Color: Black/White/Silver
Price: $110
Sizes: 6-12, 13, 14
Weight: 9.6 oz.
Where to buy: 1st Place Volleyball or Asics

Description: Asics fused court-specific volleyball design with lightweight running technology in the third generation of this high-tech shoe. The result: the ultimate footwear for athletes wanting a well-cushioned, responsive shoe to match their high-level game.

VBM Tester Review: This shoe gave tons of support during my match. I noticed especially that my ankle felt very protected. I was also a fan of the gel “padding” because I felt less impact on my knees.

ASICS GEL Volley Elite -- Editor’s Pick!

Featured Color: Silver/Black/White
Price: $130
Sizes: 6-13, 14, 15, 16
Weight: 12.4 oz.
Where to buy: Asics

Description: The name says it all. This “elite” shoe is created for volleyball players who are ready to take their game to the next level. The asymmetrical lacing design provides a proper lacing environment that reduces the potential for irritation and provides improved comfort and fit.

VBM Tester Review: This shoe was very comfortable and stylish, which I come to expect from Asics, but the very best part was how well it absorbed the shock when I came down from my jumps. This is a really great shoe to play in.

Mizuno Wave Spike 14

Featured Color: White/Black
Price: $85
Sizes: 5-12, 13
Weight: 9.8 oz.
Where to buy: Mizuno

Description: Mizuno’s most classic volleyball shoe, the Wave Spike is perfect for younger players or those with small feet due to the wide range of small sizes available.

VBM Tester Review: I have found in the past that sneakers with such solid arch support are usually on the heavier side, but these were very light and extremely ventilated. I also loved the cool gold and black color combo.

Mizuno Wave Lightning 7

Featured Color: Black/Silver
Price: $100
Sizes: 6-12, 13
Weight: 8.9 oz.
Where to buy: Mizuno

Description: With a completely new design introduced this year, the Wave Lightning continues to provide serious comfort yet solid stability so that you can be swift and agile on the court. And with Mizuno’s advanced technologies built in, this continues to be one of the brand’s most popular volleyball shoes.

VBM Tester Review: I found these shoes to be very compact and fit like a glove—after a while they almost felt weightless. The light, contoured sole made it easy to make quick movements and land solidly after a jump.

Nfinity BioniQ 2.0

Featured Color: Black
Price: $109.99
Sizes: 6-13, 14
Weight: 8.4 oz.
Where to buy: Nfinity

Description: The second generation of this ground-breaking volleyball shoe is designed from the ground up with the female player in mind. 3D NfiniMesh provides a thin mesh layer around the foot and tongue areas for ultimate ventilation and breathability to keep the foot cool and dry during intense matches.

VBM Tester Review: These shoes proved to be very comfortable and airy and had great arch support. But I especially loved all the “bells and whistles” as the shoes come with the coolest carrying case with a shoulder strap (a must for me!) and color changes that you could put in to match different uniforms.

Mizuno Wave Tornado 6

Featured Color: White/Black
Price: $120
Sizes: 6-12, 13
Weight: 11 oz.
Where to buy: Mizuno

Description: The sixth generation of the Wave Tornado volleyball shoe is equipped with new technology to further improve performance and fit. Mizuno uses their patented Wave Technology to dissipate impact forces away from the foot, leading to a smoother landing with each step you take on the court.

VBM Tester Review: This shoe is very deceiving—in looking at it I did not think it was going to be comfortable, but how wrong I was! It fit like a glove, was airy, comfortable and had great arch support. A great all around volleyball shoe.

New Balance 871

Featured Color: White/Pink /Grey
Price: $84.99
Sizes: 5-12
Weight: 8.5 oz.
Where to buy: New Balance

Description: This is the perfect sneaker to sport in between game days and for all your non-volleyball athletic activities. The aggressive lugged outsole gives maximum traction for off-road activities and the synthetic and mesh upper provides lightweight comfort and support.

VBM Tester Review: The wide upper sole style of this shoe was new to me, but I found it to be extremely stabilizing during long running and biking training workouts. And, true to their word, the laces did not slip one bit.

New Balance 773

Featured Color: Grey/Neon Blue
Price: $64.99
Sizes: 5-11
Weight: 6 oz.
Where to buy: New Balance

Description: Racing goes lifestyle in this track and field-inspired shoe inspired by Maggie Vessey, one of the fastest women on the planet. Each pair comes with two sets of different colored laces and strategically placed reflectors ensure others can see you while you’re out training in the dusk.

VBM Tester Review: Sometimes I like to get funky with my sneakers, and this pair sure fits the bill! They are super light and flexible, but still gave me plenty of support and cushioning.

Under Armour Micro G Split

Featured Color: Black and Silver
Price: $89.99
Sizes: 6-11
Weight: 9.1 oz.
Where to buy: Under Armour

Description: Perhaps one of the hottest looking sneakers out there, this Under Armour training shoe is light, bouncy and super responsive to your every move. And the addition of HeatGear fabric wicks moisture providing a cool, dry workout.

VBM Tester Review: I took these out for a training run and felt like I was flying! It was a hot day but my foot felt plenty ventilated throughout the workout. They are also super stylish and matched well with my off-the-court outfits.

Vibram FiveFingers Jaya

Featured Color: White/Grey/Purple
Price: $85
Sizes: 36-42
Weight: 3.4 oz.
Where to buy: Vibram FiveFingers

Description: One of the lightest models in the FiveFingers collection, the Jaya is designed for an array of indoor and outdoor activities requiring balance, agility and power. And after you perform a yoga practice or take your dog for a walk, simply toss these shoes in the washing machine and let them air dry.

VBM Tester Review: I was definitely skeptical when I first tried on this shoe, but after a week of long walks, bike rides and even wearing them out to dinner, I understand the “barefoot running” appeal.

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila

Featured Color: Silver/Verde/Silver
Price: $90
Sizes: 36-42
Weight: 4.8 oz.
Where to buy: Vibram FiveFingers

Description: This is the company’s first model intended specifically for running. Designed with technology to promote a more natural, healthy and efficient forefoot strike, try these out in the off-season when you are working hard to keep in shape.

VBM Tester Review: I have never run or trained in a shoe like this, but wow was it fun! They are super lightweight and supportive, and I really got the feeling of running barefoot. They would be great for the offseason to help keep me in shape.

Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport

Featured Color: Blue/Yellow/Grey
Price: $100
Sizes: 40-47
Weight: 7.1 oz.
Where to buy: Vibram FiveFingers

Description: This shoe is designed for the most active fitness enthusiast. With a stitch-free, seamless 2 mm foot bed friction is greatly reduced, and instep hook-and-loop closures secure the stretch nylon upper to the contours of your foot, making for a second-skin feel.

VBM Tester Review: I showed this shoe to my 14 and 15 year old players and they went crazy! They put the shoes on very easily and loved the colors and comfort. Everyone wanted a pair!

FiveFingers highly recommends taking it easy when first training in their “toe” style shoes. Walk around in them for at least one month before playing actively (either indoors or outside). Visit the company website for further information.

VBM TEST CENTER: PROTECTIVE GEAR

Nfinity D30 Knee Pad

Featured Color: Black and White
Price: $49.99
Sizes: S, M, L
Where to buy: Nfinity

Description: At a mere 5 inches long and 8 mm think, these are some of the shortest and slimmest kneepads on the market. Can’t make up your mind on the color? Each package comes with one set of white sleeves and one set of black sleeves, plus a set of D30 pads for interchangeability.

VBM Tester Review: I found these kneepads to be very easy to slip on and move around in. The sleeves are comfortable and don’t slide out of place, and I like getting the choice of white or black, all in one package.

Mizuno LR6 Kneepad

Featured Color: White
Price: $25
Sizes: S-L
Where to buy: Mizuno

Description: Made of a poly, cotton and Spandex® blend, this flexible kneepad makes moving around and diving to the floor a cinch. The kneepad also featuresVS-1 padding in the all-important high-impact zones and complete patella, lateral and medial protection.

VBM Tester Review: These kneepads provided ample protection on the front and sides of my knee, while still letting me move all around. They seemed to run on the smaller side, which was good because the worst is when they slip or move around once I get into a heated match.

Nfinity D-Tek Padded Hip Short

Featured Color: Black
Price: $39.99
Sizes: xxsmall-large
Where to buy: Nfinity

Description: Now you see them now you don’t—these padded shorts have an extra wide waistband that flips down to hide visibility of the removable D3O pads.

VBM Tester Review: These shorts were incredibly comfortable and fit very well. I especially liked how the pads really helped protect, but were not as visible as they are in other shorts I have worn.

Nfinity D-Tek Sleeve

Featured Color: Black
Price: $49.99
Sizes: XS/SM, M/L
Where to buy: Nfinity

Description: With total arm protection from elbow to palm, this sleeve will keep your arms bruise free. Available in left and right specific pairs and contains D30 removable elbow pads.

VBM Tester Review: These sleeves are really comfortable without being too tight, and didn’t slide down my arm while I was playing in an active match. I felt good knowing my arms and elbows were well protected.

Asics ACE Low Profile Kneepad

Featured Color: White
Price: $22
Sizes: One size
Where to buy: Asics

Description: Special ventilation zones located in strategic areas on this kneepad help quickly dissipate heat and bring cool air in, all in a slim 6 inch sleeve.

VBM Tester Review: These kneepads were tight around my knees without being uncomfortable, which is exactly what I look for in a kneepad. And the multiple pockets of padding on the front and sides gave me lots of protection.

VBM TEST CENTER: SOCKS

Nfinity Knee High Sock

Featured Color: White
Price: $14.99
Where to buy: Nfinity

Description: With height that goes up—and possibly over!—the knee, this sock will keep you dry and comfortable throughout a tough game or practice.

VBM Tester Review: These socks fit really nicely and the ribbing on the leg really kept them in place—so key!

Asics all sport court knee high

Featured Color: Red
Price: $7
Sizes: M, L, XL
Where to buy: Asics

Description: Fully cushioned and available in a rainbow of colors, these socks “stay up” due to their welt top construction.

VBM Tester Review: I found these socks to form fit right to my leg, which made for an extremely comfortable playing experience.

New Balance nbx Competitor No Show Socks

Featured Color: White
Price: $12
Sizes: M, L
Where to buy: New Balance

Description: This sock is specifically designed to provide cushioning only in the key areas of the foot where you need it most.

VBM Tester Review: These socks stayed in place with no bunching and my feet stayed dry during a very difficult and active match.

VBM TEST CENTER: APPAREL

Under Armour Women’s Shatter Compression Capri

Featured Color: Black and Graphite
Price: $44.99
Sizes: XS-XL
Where to buy: Under Armour

Description: The wide waistband and ruched knee of these capris give them a unique shape and flatter the female figure. They even feature UPF 30+ to protect your skin during an outdoor workout.

VBM Tester Review: At first I was nervous about the tight cut of these pants, but after a long training workout I found them to be very comfortable and especially lightweight. I didn’t get overheated or feel restricted at any point in my workout.

New Balance Essential Full Zip Hoodie

Featured Color: Athletic Grey
Price: $44.99
Sizes: XS-3XL
Where to buy: New Balance

Description: This relaxed-fit hoodie has a 2-way zipper so it’s easy to slip on and off when your shoulders are sore from a grueling practice.

VBM Tester Review: “Soft” doesn’t really begin to describe it! This is definitely an essential item I would love to have in my bag to throw on after a long match or wear over my jersey on my way to a game. The color selection is great, too.

Asics Volleyball Bag

Featured Color: Black
Price: $38
Sizes: One size
Where to buy: Asics

Description: The separate shoe compartment in this 20 x 11.5 x 10 inch volleyball bag is key for keeping dirty items away from clean. The large center zippered compartment can hold everything from clothing to schoolbooks, balls to water bottles.

VBM Tester Review: I literally can’t think of one thing that I couldn’t fit into this bag! It has a compartment for everything, but my favorite part is definitely the shoe sack. Mine always seem to be very sweaty and stinky by the end of the season and I don’t want them near anything else.

Asics Women’s Cabrillo Pant and Jacket

Featured Color: Royal/White
Price: $58, $65
Sizes: XS-XXL
Where to buy: Asics

Description: With a lengthy 9 inch side zipper at the base of these straight leg pants, they are super easy to whip on and off, and the semi-fitted jacket has all the bells and whistles including a lock down zipper in the front, invisible zippers on the side pockets and tricot pocket lining. The jacket is designed for the female shape and puts an end to unflattering unisex warm-ups.

VBM Tester Review: I have experienced so many bulky, manly warm up suits, that this one was a nice breath of fresh air. It was very comfortable and warm without being too heavy, and I loved the material and the way it fit. I felt the combination of the two pieces was very stylish.

Nfinity Backpack

Featured Color: Black
Price: $64.99
Sizes: One size
Where to buy: Nfinity

Description: With a padded sleeve for your laptop alongside compartments big enough for sneakers, a uniform and a water bottle, this bag is essential for the student athlete. You can even keep your valuables in the front pouch, which easily detaches to turn into a purse.

VBM Tester Review: I always seem to be carrying around my school bag and a volleyball bag, and this backpack would definitely allow me to combine the two. They seemed to think of everything, even down to the detachable purse.

Mizuno Maverick Women’s Warm-Up Top

Featured Color: Black/Red
Price: $50
Sizes: XS-XL
Where to buy: Mizuno

Description: This half-zip warm-up top features advanced moisture management and is suitable for players getting ready for a game or coaches leading from the sideline. The top has a women’s-specific cut and a tagless label.

VBM Tester Review: I really liked having this pullover-style top while I was warming up because I didn’t have to bother with a full zipper and could whip it off as soon as I was ready to play. I was surprised by how lightweight and soft the material is, and it definitely wicked the sweat right off my skin.

New balance Essential Knit Pant

Featured Color: Athletic Grey
Price: $34.99
Sizes: 2XS-2XL
Where to buy: New Balance

Description: Made of stretch knit French terry with a convenient back pocket and drawstring waist, these comfy sweats are the perfect after-practice pant to slip into.

VBM Tester Review: These pants would be perfect for one of my late fall games when I know that as soon as I leave the gym it is going to be chilly. They pull on super easily, even over my sneakers, and the drawstring has a nice clasp at the end so it doesn’t get lost inside the waistband.

Rox Phat Pack

Featured Color: Black
Where to buy: Rox Volleyball

Description: With multiple compartments for optimum organization and the ability to carry it as a backpack, this duffle is great for a single player or an entire team. And with three shoe sections separate from the main compartment, you never have to worry about your shoes stinking up everything else.

VBM Tester Review: This bag is so new that as of press time a sample was not yet available to test! Look for this bag starting Dec. 1.

Under Armour Women’s Victory Burnout T

Featured Color: Desire
Price: $27.99
Sizes: XS-XL
Where to buy: Under Armour

Description: The feminine cut and deep v-neck on this trendy burnout tee hits all the right places without riding, binding, bunching or sagging. And the rainbow of colors available makes this top easily transition from gym to street wear.

VBM Tester Review: Besides loving the color and textured pattern of this shirt, it was the most comfortable tee I have worked out in. The thin, soft material along with the lose fit and v-neck made me feel like I barely had a shirt on. Another plus was the fast drying material let me leave the gym without changing and not feeling sweaty.

VBM TEST CENTER: BALLS

Mikasa VPD5

Price: $24.99 (estimated)
Where to buy: Mikasa Sports

Description: Available in mid-August, this signature Mikasa ball features American beach player Phil Dalhausser’s face printed on the front, while the back has his last name scrawled in a unique font. A fun way to play ball with an Olympian.

Tachikara SV5WSC Sensi-Tec®

Featured Color: Pink/White/Black
Price: $39.95
Where to buy: Tachikara

Description: The exclusive Sensi-Tec® micro-fiber composite leather features a resin-fused fiber cover, which make for a truer touch and better ball control. And with 46 different color combinations to choose from, every team is sure to find the perfect color-coded ball.

Molten V5M5000

Price: $80
Featured Color: Green/Red
Where to buy: 1st Place Volleyball or Molten USA

Description: Equipped with a premium micro-fiber cover and a 2-year warranty, this indoor ball is FIVB approved and meets official size and weight standards.

Originally published in September/October 2011

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