Monica De Gennaro (Rubin-LVF)

Monica De Gennaro celebrates with Conegliano fans

Italy libero Monica De Gennaro is regarded by many as one of the best players of the decade, a reputation she has earned through investing many hours in training and an ethic of hard work.

The 33-year-old's career has been filled with numerous victories. But the challenges of one tournament in particular served her well in terms of getting to where she is now. That motivator was a frustrating campaign for Italy at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Italy’s very first appearance at a women's Olympic volleyball tournament was at Sydney 2000. The Southern Europeans participated in every edition of the quadrennial thereafter, and when they made it to the quarterfinals in three appearances had high hopes of qualifying for the final four in Rio in 2016. Marco Bonitta's team, however, claimed just one win in five matches played in Brazil.

De Gennaro was disappointed but eventually managed to pick up the pieces and regain her determination.

“Rio 2016 was not such a great Olympic Games for us, as we had a very strong drive and high expectations to perform well. After that tournament, I lost my confidence and really felt that I wasn't living up to expectations.

“I wanted to get back on my feet, however, so I worked on those negative feelings and pushed myself to train harder.”

With a renewed belief that she could hold her own among the top players in the sport, she became a leader for her younger teammates and together they have created a wonderful collaboration in attack and defence that has led to several significant successes in the years since Rio, including a silver medal at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in Japan in 2018 and gold at the 2021 CEV Women's European Championship.

Wearing the blue and white jersey of the Italian team has always been a huge source of pride for De Gennaro. Her achievements with club Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano, however, also help define her current career.

“I feel honoured every time I represent my country in world competitions. Each event is memorable for me because we play each match with the right spirit and desire – all to honour the flag on the jersey we are wearing.

“Last year’s FIVB Women’s Club World Championship in China was also memorable. It was the first time Imoco Conegliano were participating and we knew that we had a good team coming into the tournament. It was an unforgettable ride because we were strong. It gave us unique joy to be there and conquer the title.”


Italy’s current depth of talent is undeniable, with its hitters getting a lot of the recognition. But De Gennaro is the unsung hero who links defence and attack. Her trusted partner in these efforts is 21-year-old Paola Egonu, who is the national team and Imoco Conegliano’s certified scoring machine.

“It’s an honour to be her friend and have the privilege to play with her at Imoco and on the national team. She deserves all the awards that she has received.

“Paola is a great achiever, and she does her best to reach the goals she has set for herself. She is a very sensitive and quiet person but turns into a panther when she is on the court playing. She is a rare talent who is writing important pages in our history. She is the future of this sport.”

The two also play their club volleyball together, with Conegliano enjoying the benefits of the partnership. Currently undefeated in the Lega Pallavolo Femminile Serie A1, the club recently celebrated a 74th consecutive match victory across all seasons and competitions to better the previous record of 73 held by Turkey's VakifBank Istanbul from 2012 to 2014.

De Gennaro describes herself as, “stubborn, hardworking, determined, generous, moody, demanding, protective, tenacious, introverted and honest.”

Monica De Gennaro celebrates a point (Rubin-LVF)

All these traits are embodied in her brilliant game.

The Italian League continues over the weekend with all matches streamed live on Volleyball TV. Watch to see how Imoco Volley Conegliano fare away to third-placed Savino Del Bene Scandicci.