Paola Egonu will star for Italy at the FIVB Nations League after she was included in coach Davide Mazzanti’s 25-woman squad for the tournament, which begins on May 21.
Egonu, who enjoyed a superb season at Igor Volley Novara and will play in the CEV Champions League final on May 18, is the subject of intense speculation surrounding her future at club level as Europe’s top teams covet her signature.
The 20-year-old is joined by Anna Nicoletti in the squad, the pair getting the nod as Italy’s opposites for the Nations League while Terry Enweonwu and Josephine Obossa have been left out.
Molinaro misses out
Mazzanti has opted not to take centres Beatrice Molinaro or Agnese Cecconello to the VNL, putting his faith in the experience and composure of Conegliano star Anna Danesi and Italy captain Cristina Chirichella.
Chirichella was alongside Egonu in the Novara side that lost the Serie A1 play-off final to Conegliano, and she added her voice to those decrying the congested schedule facing players around the world as international duty beckons.
“If we are physically struggling or injured, we must also think about why,” Chirichella told La Stampa.
“We have played without stopping since last autumn, since the World Cup in Japan.
“Calendars are too compressed, and for us players injuries are inevitable.”
The hectic schedule of club and international fixtures already prompted Serena Ortolani, Marina Lubian, Sara Bonifacio and Alessia Gennari to ask for dispensation from the squad.
Mazzanti will hope the younger members of his team can cope with the demands of the VNL so soon after their domestic season finished, but he opted not to include up-and-coming setter Rachele Morello of Fipav in his squad.
The 19-year-old did not make the final cut after featuring in the 30-woman long-list announced in April.
Italy play Poland in their VNL opener on May 21 before taking on Thailand, Germany, the Dominican Republic, the USA and Serbia before the tournament concludes on May 30.
Italy’s VNL squad in full
Opposites: Paola Egonu, Anna Nicoletti
Spikers: Lucia Bosetti, Caterina Bosetti, Miriam Sylla, Elena Pietrini, Indre Sorokaite, Sylvia Nwakalor, Anastasia Guerra, Francesca Villani, Elena Perinelli
Setters: Carlotta Cambi, Alessia Orro, Ofelia Malinov, Francesca Bosio
Centres: Cristina Chirichella, Raphaela Folie, Anna Danesi, Sara Alberti, Sarah Fahr, Beatrice Berti and Alexandra Botezat
Liberos: Monica De Gennaro, Chiara De Bortoli, Beatrice Parrocchiale