Egonu was the MVP of the VNL 2022, leading Italy to their only victory in the tournament

New head coach Julio Velasco has finalized the group of 30 players that will be eligible to represent Italy at the upcoming Volleyball Nations League 2024 and the return of star opposite Paola Egonu is the highlight of the list released by the country’s national federation.

Velasco, who started the team’s preparations for the 2024 season last Monday with 16 players in Milan, added 14 more names to his initial selection, completing the country’s 30-player squad for the VNL 2024.

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The list brings back four experienced players who missed last year’s Volleyball Olympic Qualifier, most notably the 25-year-old Egonu, who has been the team’s leading scorer in several years. The star opposite, who also didn’t appear at last year’s VNL after being the tournament’s MVP in 2022, is having a terrific club season with Allianz Vero Volley Milano, being the top scorer of the 2023-2024 Lega Pallavolo Femminile Serie A Tigotà and taking her team to the final of the CEV Champions League.

Besides Egonu, also returning to the national team after sitting out of the Olympic Qualifier are veteran libero Monica De Gennaro, setter Alessia Orro and outside hitter Caterina Bosetti.

In his first call-up with Italy, the 72-year-old Velasco made some changes in the squad that used to be assembled by his predecessor Davide Mazzanti, leaving the likes of middle blocker Federica Squarcini, libero Beatrice Parrocchiale and outside hitter Francesca Villani out of his selection.

Some players will be back with the national team after years away, such as setter Carlotta Cambi and middle blockers Sarah Fahr and Sara Bonifacio, while others will have their first opportunities to compete internationally at the senior level, including opposite Camilla Mingardi, outside hitters Gaia Giovannini and Martina Bracchi and middle blockers Emma Graziani and Yasmina Akrari.

Olympic qualification in play at the VNL

The VNL 2024 will represent Italy’s last opportunity to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics after the team finished third at last year’s Volleyball Olympic Qualifier in Łódź, Poland.

The Europeans are currently the highest-ranked non-qualified national team among the women, in fifth place, and need to earn FIVB World Ranking points during the VNL Preliminary Phase to secure one of the five remaining spots.

Italy will play their first VNL 2024 matches in Antalya, Türkiye, where they will be faced with Poland, Germany, Bulgaria and the home team from May 14-18.

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Italy women’s national team full roster (subject to eligibility check to be conducted by the FIVB):

Setters: Alessia Orro, Carlotta Cambi, Francesca Bosio, Giulia Gennari
Opposites: Camilla Mingardi, Ekaterina Antropova, Paola Egonu, Sylvia Nwakalor
Outside hitters: Alice Degradi, Caterina Bosetti, Elena Pietrini, Gaia Giovannini, Loveth Omoruyi, Martina Bracchi, Myriam Sylla, Rebecca Piva, Stella Nervini
Middle blockers: Alessia Mazzaro, Anna Danesi, Benedetta Sartori, Emma Graziani, Linda Nwakalor, Marina Lubian, Sara Bonifacio, Sarah Fahr, Yasmina Akrari
Liberos: Eleonora Fersino, Ilaria Spirito, Ilenia Moro, Monica De Gennaro

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Volleyball Nations League
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