De Cecco

Lube's captain De Cecco has been one of the most influential setters in international volleyball over the last two decades

The SuperLega Credem Banca is widely recognised as the best men's domestic league in the world and features many of the leading players in international volleyball. These players have a huge impact on the outcome of the Italian League and this week, Cucine Lube Civitanova's Argentinean setter Luciano De Cecco will lead his young teammates in key matches in the Italian Super Cup and Italian League.

Setters are considered the brains (and often the heart) of their teams, but not many have had the impact Luciano De Cecco has had over the past 16 years.

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One of the best players at the position over the last two decades, the 34-year-old Argentinean has a cerebral, yet creative playing style that makes the teams he plays for among the most exciting and appealing to watch.

Starting his career at Gimnasia Y Esgrima, De Cecco went on to help Argentina overcome a difficult period following the international retirement of the players who helped the country win historic bronze medals at the 1982 FIVB Volleyball World Championship and the 1988 Olympics.

He first joined the senior national team in 2006 and was to lead a roster that would take Argentina back to the podium at the Olympics, 33 years after its previous success at this level. The Argentineans recognised his value to the team, and largely built their squad around him.

The pinnacle of his international career came at last year's Olympics in Tokyo, when, besides captaining Argentina to the podium, he also saw his individual talent recognized with a Best Setter award – it was the third time he took a similar award, following selections at the FIVB Volleyball World Cup and the FIVB Volleyball World League earlier in his career.

De Cecco indicated Tokyo would be his last stop with the national team, but the long-awaited medal gave him extra fuel for a few more years. He helped Argentina finish eighth at the 2022 World Championship, becoming one of just five players to appear in five editions of the tournament, and now hopes to keep going until the Paris 2024 Games.

“I’m very realistic, I know it’s not going to last forever and that I’m way closer to the end than to the start,” he told Argentinean website Ole, following this year’s World Championship. “But I’m also very aware that I gave my absolute best to the national team all these years. Since I first wore the Argentinean jersey, I always said that I wanted to be at peace when I decided to leave. And since Tokyo, I feel this way. Of course I’d love to end my international career with great success in Paris, but I’m at peace with what I’ve done.”

De Cecco’s club career, however, should continue for some time. After stints in his home country and in Russia, he’s been playing in the Italian League for more than a decade now and feels at home in the country.

The Argentinean has represented two of the biggest clubs in the country, Piacenza and Perugia, and signed with his current team, Cucine Lube Civitanova, in 2020. In his 11 years in the country, De Cecco has won four Italian Cups, three SuperLegas, two Italian Super Cups and medals at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship (one silver) and the CEV Champions League (one silver, two bronze).

He was instrumental in the team’s SuperLega title last season and is expected to have an even more important role in 2022-2023 as some of the other more experienced members of the squad have now left the team, including outside hitters Osmany Juantorena and Ricardo Lucarelli and middle blocker Robertlandy Simon.

De Cecco has been appointed as the new team captain ahead of the start of the season and has fully embraced the task of leading Lube’s young core of Barthélémy Chenenyeze, Marlon Yant, Gabriel Garcia, Mattia Bottolo and Aleksandar Nikolov, playing the same key role in the team’s roster transition that he did with Argentina.

“The squad has been rejuvenated, but the club’s mentality is still the same,” he commented. “And the most experienced players need to act and make sure that shows on the court.”

Lube have had ups and downs at the start of the season, winning three of their first six matches to rank fourth in the SuperLega standings. This week will be a big one for the club as it will start with an Italian SuperCup semifinal matchup against Valsa Group Modena, on Monday, at 17.30 local time (15.30 GMT), and end with a SuperLega duel against WithU Verona on Sunday, at 18.00 local time (16.00 GMT).