Ricardo Lucarelli (BRA)

Ricardo Lucarelli has been among the best outside hitters in international volleyball for a few years now, but the 29-year-old Brazilian has put an even stronger game on show during the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Lucarelli’s overall improvement as a player is directly connected to his first experience at the club level outside his home country. The Rio 2016 Olympic champion spent the 2020-2021 club season with Trentino in Italy and had a successful campaign, helping the team take silver in the CEV European Champions League and finish third in the Italian League and the country’s Cup and Supercup.

“Playing in Italy has helped me improve my game,” the outside hitter said. “It’s a very strong league. In every match you’re asked to perform your best and have to push all the way to win. It was an amazing experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to explore much of the country off the court, but I hope I can do that next season.”

Passing is one of the areas of Lucarelli's game that saw the most improvement

Passing is one of the areas of Lucarelli's game that saw the most improvement

One of the areas of Lucarelli’s game in which the Brazilian experienced the most improvement was passing. He has become noticeably more efficient and confident in that area after his season with Trentino.

He’s currently Brazil’s second-best passer in the VNL with 39 successful receptions, only behind libero Thales Hoss, who has 55.

“Passing is really important because of the way we play,” the outside hitter added. “We have some amazing middle blockers that we want to use in offence as much as possible, and that is only possible if we pass well. Most teams in the world serve really well now and I’m happy I’ve been able to help with that.”

The improvement in passing didn’t come at the expense of a more limited offensive production, however. Lucarelli is one of Brazil's leading point scorers in the competition and one of the reasons the team have won six of their seven matches so far and sit second in the standings.

“Anytime someone asks me about my performance, I’ll always say I can play better,” he commented. “There are certainly areas to improve, but I’m happy I’ve been helping the team.”