Argentina have been able to preserve the core of the squad that took the country back to the podium at the Tokyo Olympics for the first time in 33 years. At the same time, it looks like there could be some new faces at the middle blocker position for the Volleyball Nations League 2022.
Middle Agustin Loser ready to step up for Argentina
The 24-year-old is set to follow in the footsteps of longtime starters Crer and Sole
Published 07:00, 21 Jun 2022
And that is because Sebastian Sole and Pablo Crer will not be with the team, for the first time since 2009. The two players were key players for the Argentinean national team over the last decade, but have both retired from international volleyball in the last 12 months.
Crer, 33, made the decision during last year’s VNL and didn’t make the trip to Tokyo a few months later. Sole, on the other hand, revealed he would be focusing solely on his club career a few weeks ago.
The departure of the two veterans increases the role 24-year-old Agustin Loser will take on. Loser emerged as a strong option at the middle blocker position in recent competitions and is now one of the starters in the team that is competing at the VNL.
Head coach Marcelo Mendez, however, has also called up 30-year-old Martin Ramos, 25-year-old Joaquin Gallego, and 23-year-olds Nicolas Zerba, Franco Medina and Flavio Rajczakowski as other possible options at the middle blocker position.
“Sole and Crer have been pillars for the national team in the middle for several years,” Loser told Volleyball World. “It’s nearly impossible to repeat what they did, as both had tremendous careers with the national team, but the young players who are coming in this year and I will do all we can to fill their spots in the best possible way. I’ve learned a lot from both of them and am really determined to do my best to represent them in the national team.”
Loser can rely on his first Olympic experience to help him adjust to his increased role with the team in 2022. With Crer’s surprising retirement decision, the 1.97m-tall Loser was pushed into the starting lineup in Tokyo and showed he has all the necessary credentials by topping the tournament’s blocking stats with 22 stuffs.
“I feel like I’m a different player now,” he explained. “Being at the Olympics and winning a medal has changed my career and made me a better player. I feel like I learned a lot from that experience, which was short but very intense and unique. I learned a lot of different lessons and am looking forward to using them in my career.”
The memories from Tokyo, Loser believes, will be a source of motivation for the entire Argentinean squad in the 2022 season. The South Americans will play the VNL, but also the FIVB Volleyball World Championship, when they will try to return to the podium for the first time in 40 years.
“It’s been great to have the team reunited again,” he added. “When we all got together, the memories of us winning the Olympic medal immediately came back. It gave us a lot of motivation to keep growing and going for more. We want to do the best we can in the VNL and the World Championship and hopefully make more history for Argentina.”
After winning only one of their four matches in the opening week of the VNL, Loser and his teammates will try to improve on their record this week in Quezon City, Philippines, when they play Japan, Slovenia, China and the Netherlands.