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Outside hitter Mattia Bottolo has been one of the new interesting faces in the Italian roster

Reigning European champions Italy don’t have Ivan Zaytsev, Alessandro Michieletto, Simone Anzani or Fabio Balaso in their squad for the opening week of the Volleyball Nations League 2022, but the young roster led by Ferdinando de Giorgi has still been able to deliver good results.

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

With 12 of the 14 players in the squad that made the trip to Ottawa, Canada, aged 25 or less, the Italians unsurprisingly had problems against reigning Olympic champions France in their opening match on Wednesday, losing in straight sets, but have found their rhythm since.

It didn’t take long for the Italians to react. On Thursday, they came from behind to mount a spectacular comeback against reigning world champions Poland and triumph 3-1. The Southern Europeans were able to maintain their good form against hosts Canada, winning 3-0 on Saturday, and will now try to secure a third-straight victory against Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists Argentina in their final match of the week on Sunday.

Yuri Romanò, Mattia Bottolo Points Made Leaders in Canada vs. Italy - Top Points Made

“The victory against Poland gave us a lot of confidence,” reflected 22-year-old outside hitter Mattia Bottolo, who scored 13 points against the Canadians. “And when we manage to play with confidence throughout an entire match, that’s when we play at our best. We don’t really know what we are capable of doing right now. The VNL is a really tough tournament and anyone can win any match. We won our last two matches, but both of them were really difficult.”

A two-time Olympian and the team captain, 25-year-old setter Simone Gianelli is one of the familiar faces on the team this week in Ottawa. The playmaker has been doing some heavy work to help the team, having scored 17 points himself across three matches, including an impressive nine against Canada (the third-most in the entire team).

Simone Giannelli Assists Leader in Canada vs. Italy - Top Assists

Playing the role of a veteran leader with his young teammates, the Sir Safety Conad Perugia star is pleased with the team’s performance so far.

“We have a young team, but we want to play good volleyball,” he remarked. “Our players are young, but I’ve been playing with them for quite some time and I know how focused they are on performing well and I trust them.”

Head coach Ferdinando de Giorgi, who took over the team after last year’s Tokyo Olympics with the stated goal of rejuvenating the squad, is very high on the impact the week of elite-level volleyball can have on the younger players in the future of their careers.

The coach is invested in giving playing time to as many players as possible and has already used 13 of his 14 athletes during the first three matches.

“This is a truly important experience for this group,” he explained. “We’ve been able to play against some of the best teams in the world in a challenging environment and they will for sure learn from this experience. Our goal in bringing them here was to strengthen our squad and that’s something very important.”

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Captain Gianelli is providing some experience to the young Italian roster

The match between Italy and Argentina on Sunday will start at 14.00 local time (18.00 GMT).