FIVB VNL 2019 preview – can Italy replicate World Champ performance?

After a stellar showing at the 2018 World Championship that earned this team a silver, Italy will enter FIVB VNL 2019 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.

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 roster

Preliminary squad listed with players that have been subsequently cut for tournament roster listed in red.

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 Egonu, 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.

Paola Egonu has quickly transitioned from talented youngster to a key player for Italy. Source: FIVB.com

Italy FIVB VNL 2019 match schedule

All match times listed in GMT.

Week 1

May 21 at  18:30– Poland v Italy
May 22 at 15:30 – Thailand v Italy
May 23 at 15:30 AM CT – Italy v Germany

Week 2

May 28 at 18:00 – Italy v Dominican Republic
May 29 at 18:00 – USA v Italy
May 30 at 18:00 – Serbia v Italy

Week 3

June 4 at 09:30 – Netherlands v Italy
June 5 at 09:30 – Italy v Japan
June 6 at 12:30 – China v Italy

Week 4

June 11 at 18:00 – Italy v Bulgaria
June 12 at 18:00 – Italy v Korea
June 13 at 18:00 – Italy v Russia

Week 5

June 18 at 13:00 – Brazil v Italy
June 19 at 16:00 – Italy v Turkey
June 20 at 13:00 – 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 it 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.

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

FIVB haven’t as yet released the broadcast details for the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. Once it is updated we will update this section.

For now we are able to say that fans in Italy were able to watch the 2018 tournament on VolleyballWorld.tv and on RAI.