2019 FIVB VNL Preview: Italy Women's National Team

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After a stellar showing at the 2018 World Championship that earned this team a silver, Italy will enter 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League as a formidable squad capable of achieving anything. 

Italy’s women’s team stepped into the international volleyball spotlight with that World Championship silver and the hope is to keep up the pace not just in this tournament, but all the way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Watch the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League LIVE on FloVolleyball

2018 FIVB VNL record & stats

Win/loss: 10 / 5 

Points: 29 

Sets win/loss/ratio: 34 / 22 / 1.545 

Points win/loss/ratio: 1230 / 1136 / 1.083 

Final position: 7th

What’s new for Italy in FIVB VNL 2019?

Likely returning for Italy is its crop of talented and energetic young players molded by the unique experience of going deep & taking silver in the World Championship. 

That valuable experience at such a competitive and high-stakes tournament is the most important development for this team as it heads into FIVB VNL 2019 and subsequent Olympic qualifiers. 

Italy world ranking: 8 (October 2018)

Italy FIVB VNL 2019 match schedule

Week 1

May 21 at 1:30 PM CT – Poland v Italy 

May 22 at 10:30 AM CT – Thailand v Italy 

May 23 at 10:30 AM CT – Italy v Germany

Week 2

May 28 at 1 PM CT – Italy v Dominican Republic 

May 29 at 1 PM CT – USA v Italy 

May 30 at 1 PM CT – Serbia v Italy

Week 3

June 4 at 4:30 AM CT – Netherlands v Italy 

June 5 at 4:30 AM CT – Italy v Japan 

June 6 at 7:30 AM CT – China v Italy

Week 4

June 11 at 1 PM CT – Italy v Bulgaria 

June 12 at 1 PM CT – Italy v Korea 

June 13 at 1 PM CT – Italy v Russia

Week 5

June 18 at 8 AM CT – Brazil v Italy 

June 19 at 11 AM CT – Italy v Turkey 

June 20 at 8 AM CT – Belgium v Italy

Italy games to watch out for in FIVB VNL 2019

By comparison to how well Italy would go onto perform in the 2018 World Championships it performed poorly in the preceding VNL. 

With a 10-5 record, Italy didn't progress from the preliminary round and had heavy defeats to Turkey, USA & Russia that it will surely look to revenge with interest. Also look out for rematches with Japan and Poland, both of whom delivered closely fought & surprising wins over Italy in 2018.

Italy preliminary roster

Head coach: Davide Mazzanti 

Setters: Carlotta Cambi, Francesca Bosio, Ofelia Malinov, Alessia Orro, Rachelle Morello 

Liberos: Monica De Gennaro, Beatrice Parrocchiale, Chiara De Portoli 

Middle Blockers: Cristina Chirichella, Sara Alberti, Raphaela Folie, Anna Danesi, Sarah Luisa Fahr, Alexandra Botezat, Agnese Cecconello, Beatrice Molinaro, Beatrice Berti 

Wing Spikers (Outside & Opposite Hitters): Indre Sorokaite, Caterina Bosetti, Anastasia Guerra, Elena Pietrini, Sylvia Chinelo Nwakalor, Lucia Bosetti, Miriam Fatime Sylla, Paola Engonu, Anna Nicoletti, Francesca Villani, Josephine Obossa, Elena Perinelli, Terry Enweonwu 

Average age: 23.2 (12th oldest)

Average height: 185.3cm (6th tallest)

Italy players to watch in FIVB VNL 2019: Paola Egonu, Miriam Sylla, Monica De Gennaro, Lucia Bosetti, Ofelia Malinov

Italy’s top player and rising star is opposite hitter Paola Egonu. She’s just 20 years old but has already become one of Italy’s go-to options. She’s got the 2016 Rio Olympics experience under her belt and in the 2018 World Championship was named as one of the Best Opposite Hitters. 

Another wing spiker is 24-year-old Miriam Sylla, who won Best Outside Spiker at the World Championship. Sylla and Egonu complement each other as they provide solid power on the wings for Italy. 

Perhaps Sylla’s key weakness, however, is her passing and reception – something other teams have taken note of and have used against her. Veterans Monica De Gennaro, a libero, and Lucia Bosetti, an outside hitter, are solid engines for Italy. Their reliable core skills such as passing hugely help stabilize Italy on the court. 

Young setter Ofelia Malinov, who’s only 23, is also one to watch. She earned the Best Setter plum at the World Championship and is clearly still a long way away from her peak form.

The bottom line: Can Italy mirror its World Championship performance?

Italy came in at seventh place at last year’s FIVB VNL. So it was not surprising for onlookers to write it off for the World Championship later in the year. 

Clearly it underperformed in the 2018 Nation's League but whether this was a well planned strategy or early season jitters remains to be seen. FIVB VNL 2019 will probably be seen as an acid test for Italy to prove it can stay on top or become even better. 

Theoretically, the team should be on a high entering this tournament following that huge accomplishment so they should be alright.

What is a realistic FIVB VNL projection for the Italy women’s team?

Expectations are understandably higher for Italy after its promising World Championship showing, so a podium finish is certainly within reason for this team. 

Anything outside of that would not be a good look for Italy.

How to watch Italy in FIVB VNL 2019

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