Italy have always been a force in international volleyball and the upcoming FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2022, which is set to start on September 23 in the Netherlands and Poland, could further cement the country’s status in the sport.
Italy aim for World Championship double
The South European country could be the first to boast world champions in both genders simultaneously in over 60 years
Published 07:00, 17 Sep 2022
With the country’s men’s national team having triumphed at the World Championship earlier this month, the women could make Italy just the second nation to win the tournament in both genders in the same season, repeating what the former Soviet Union achieved in 1952 and 1960.
The Italians have recently had that kind of success at the continental level, with their men’s and women’s national teams taking the titles at the CEV European Championships last year.
The team led by head coach Davide Mazzanti will also play to return to the top of the podium for the first time in 20 years and give Italy their second world title. In 2002, a team featuring the likes of setter Eleonora Lo Bianco, opposite Elisa Togut, outside hitter Francesca Piccininni, middle blocker Manuela Leggeri and libero Paola Cardullo triumphed in Germany.
Italy came close to doing as well four years ago, when they made it to the World Championship gold medal match but were stopped by Serbia. They took silver, only the nation’s second medal in the tournament.
Italy’s hopes of succeeding in the Netherlands and Poland, and earning a second world title this year, were certainly boosted by their victorious campaign at the 2022 Volleyball Nations League. After thriving in the Preliminary Phase with ten wins in 12 matches, the Italians put on a dominant run in the Final Round to win the tournament for the first time.
“We planned our activities this summer so that the team would get to the World Championship in its best physical and technical shape,” Mazzanti said. “We are very aware of our potential, but in the end, it’s what we show on the court that matters.”
The Most Valuable Player of the VNL, star opposite Paola Egonu will lead the Italian offence while the likes of libero Monica De Gennaro, setter Alessia Orro, middle blocker Cristina Chirichella and outside hitter Caterina Bosetti strengthen the other areas of the squad.
Bosetti, who made it on to the VNL Dream Team, will be one of six World Championship first-timers alongside Orro, outside hitters Alessia Gennari and Alice Degradi, middle blocker Sara Bonifacio and libero Eleonora Fersino.
In preparation for the World Championship, the Italians played in an exhibition tournament in Naples, where they finished second after defeating Poland and Serbia and falling to Türkiye.
“I don’t like to make predictions about our result at the World Championship, but we know our value and are working hard for it,” Orro said. “There are several strong teams that will fight for the world title. We’re one of them and we’ll do our best to see the Italian flag at the top.”
The Italians will be in Pool A at the World Championships and will play Cameroon, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Kenya and hosts the Netherlands in Arnhem.