For an American volleyball fan, it’s a great time to start following the women’s top Italian League, Serie A1. All but two of the 13 teams in the league have Americans on their rosters, and some of the world’s top players are also competing in Italy this year.
And, you can watch all the matches live right here on FloVolleyball.
The women's league is seven rounds into the 2018-19 season as we head into December, and these are the top stories of the season so far and ones to keep an eye on going forward.
But first, here’s your cheat sheet for finding teams with Americans on the roster:
Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia: Haleigh Washington
Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo: Aury Cruz (Puerto Rico)
Igor Gorgonzola Novara: Lauren Carlini, Michelle Bartsch
Il Bisonte Firenze: Daly Santana (Puerto Rico)
Imoco Volley Conegliano: Kim Hill
Lardini Filottrano: Courtney Schwan, Aiyana Whitney
Pomi Casalmaggiore: Danielle Cuttino
Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri: Samantha Middleborn
Saugella Team Monza: Rachael Adams, Micha Hancock
Savino Del Bene Scandicci: Regan Hood, Annie Mitchem
Zanetti Bergamo: Megan Courtney, Hannah Tapp
Undefeated Reigning Champs On Top
Igor Gorgonzola Novara kicked off the new season by winning seven matches in a row, losing just four total sets along the way. Not only does Novara’s 2018-19 roster include the world’s top opposite, 19-year-old Italian Paola Egonu, but it also features Dutch national team outside Celeste Plak, and USA national teamers Lauren Carlini and Michelle Bartsch.
Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio Close Behind
Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio is also undefeated, having won all six of its matches so far this season; however, it has not yet played Novara, Conegliano, Casalmaggiore, or Scandicci, the other top-ranked teams in the league.
Complete Standings, as of Dec. 1
Igor Gorgonzola Novara 7-0
Unet E-Work Busto Arsizio 6-0
Imoco Volley Conegliano 5-1
Pomi Casalmaggiore 5-2
Savino Del Bene Scandicci 5-1
Saugella Team Monza 3-4
Banca Valsabbina Millenium Brescia 3-3
Il Bisonte Firenze 3-4
Zanetti Bergamo 2-5
Bosca San Bernardo Cuneo 2-4
Lardini Filottrano 1-5
Club Italia Crai 0-6
Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri 0-7
Egonu Continues to Impress
Paola Egonu has been playing professional volleyball since she was 14 and first joined for the Italian senior national team at age 17. She started every match for Italy at the Olympics and led the team to a silver medal at the 2018 FIVB Women’s World Championship.
Back in action for Novara, the 19-year-old has been dominant, even collecting 25 points in the match versus Imoco Conegliano.
Megan Easy Suffers Season-Ending Injury
Almost exactly a year since a tear of her left achilles tendon ended the 2017-18 season for former Penn State Nittany Lion Megan Easy, she tore her right achilles in a match between her professional team, Imoco Conegliano, and Cheri.
Megan Courtney Back on the Left
Megan Courtney, who suffered an ACL tear in September 2017, traveled with the U.S. Women’s National Team as a libero during World Champs, but now that she’s joined her new professional team Zanetti Bergamo, the former Penn State outside and Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 NCAA tournament is finally hitting again. And she’s hitting well, ranking as the leading scorer in Bergamo’s matches versus Novara and Casalmaggiore.
Non-Americans Worth Watching
Maybe at first you only tune into an Italian league match to see your favorite former NCAA stars in action, but we bet you’ll fall in love with these non-American athletes currently at the top of their games.
Robin De Kruijf (Netherlands), Novara
Paola Egonu (Italy), Novara
Isabelle Haak (Sweden), Scandicci
Louisa Lippmann (Germany), Firenze
Celeste Plak (Netherlands), Novara
Polina Rahimova (Azerbaijan), Casalmaggiore
Italian Teams in Champions League
Three Serie A1 teams made it to the group stage of the 2018-19 CEV Champions League.
Novara swept its Polish opponent Budowlani Lodz in the first leg of Pool C action, with Egonu terminating 19 points and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley adding 11.
In Pool D, 33 points from 19-year-old Scandicci’s Isabelle Haak wasn’t enough for her team to defeat Conegliano. Haak’s 28 kills, three aces, and two blocks added up to make her the top scorer of the round, but Conegliano won the match in five, benefitting from 23 points from Croatian Samanta Fabris and 20 from American Kim Hill.
Biggest Upcoming Matches
December 2, 10 AM CT | Cuneo vs. Firenze
Puerto Rico national teamer Daly Santana and Aury Cruz line up on opposite sides of the net in this match, with former Florida Gator Cruz on the roster of Cuneo and former Minnesota Gopher Santana with Firenze.
Dec. 2, 10 AM CT | Casalmaggiore vs. Brescia
It was just a year ago that Purdue’s Danielle Cuttino and Penn State’s Haleigh Washington faced off as member of opposing Big Ten teams. In this match, they’ll meet again, this time as professionals.
Dec. 9, 10 AM CT | Scandicci vs. Conegliano
As noted above, Scandicci and Conegliano matched up in the Champions League tournament, but the two teams will have another opportunity to play each other this month in Serie A1, perhaps offering Scandicci an opportunity for redemption.
Dec. 16, 10 AM CT | Monza vs. Brescia
Monza’s pair of Americans, setter Micha Hancock and middle Rachael Adams, spent all summer playing together in the USA gym, so look for them to be a dynamic duo in this match between two teams very close in the league standings.
Dec. 23, 10 AM CT | Busto Arsizio vs. Novara
The only two teams currently boasting undefeated records are scheduled to face off two days before Christmas and it’s a match you won’t want to miss.