Italy opposite Indre Sorokaite said Japan and China pose the most potent threats to the Azzurri this week in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League – but warned her team-mates not to underestimate the Netherlands.
Davide Mazzanti’s side have won five of their six matches so far, putting them third in the overall standings behind Turkey and USA.
Next up for Italy is a clash with the Netherlands on June 4, followed by Japan and China, with all three matches taking place at the spectacular Hong Kong Coliseum.
While China and Japan sit sixth and seventh, respectively, having won four of their six opening matches, the Dutch have mustered just two victories so far on their VNL debut.
Sorokaite said Italy go into all three games in confident mood, but without complacency.
“In Hong Kong the team will be able to grow in terms of the game, putting into practice the things we are working on in training,” the 30-year-old told Volleyball.it.
“Some difficult challenges await us, in particular against Japan and China: both play very fast volleyball and therefore they will be different matches from those played so far.
“The Netherlands, on the other hand, are a young team and we will not underestimate them. Our aim is to play our game and pick up points without being too tense or nervous.
“We have every chance to do well and take another step towards the finals in Nanjing.”
Italy opened their VNL campaign with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Poland, before beating Thailand and Germany in straight sets.
A united group
In their home games in week two they beat the Dominican Republic and Serbia 3-1, either side of a 3-2 defeat to second-placed USA.
Sorokaite reflected on their performances so far, saying: “We are playing well, especially considering the little time we had to prepare for the competition. We are satisfied with these first two weeks and now it is up to us to build on the good work we have done.
“At this time of the season it is important to use every game to find the right way to play, especially with the Olympic qualifying tournament in Catania coming up.
“I think that we are showing how united we are as a group. Difficult moments always come with a smile or a pat on the back.”
Sorokaite enjoyed an impressive season at Il Bisonte Florence in 2018-19 before signing for Imoco Volley Conegliano, along with Italy team-mate Paola Egonu.
The Lithuania-born star forged her success as an opposite but has recently taken on the role of receiving striker, both at club level and for her country.
She described the challenge, saying: “With my club, I felt more mature and more complete, and I am happy to be able to prove myself in the blue shirt.
“Covering two roles at international level is not easy but I enjoy it so much, and it completes me both as a person and as a player.
“We must have a lot of concentration and maturity. Last season helped me a lot.
“I can say that the hard work is bearing fruit.”