One could say Italy’s debut VNL campaign was highly disappointing. The current Olympic silver medalists were highly favorites to win the competition, with the return of superstars Ivan Zaytsev and Osmany Juantorena to the roster. The team was even VolleyMob’s #1 ranked team heading into the tournament. but an 8-7 record, good enough for 8th place, didn’t even allow it to make the competition’s Final Round.
With the World Championship just ahead the corner, being played in his home-country, Italian national teamer Juantorena wants the squad to learn from its VNL woes, and tackle the competition game by game, without calling any favoritism to themselves:
“Blengini rightly changed a lot the roster during the VNL. Overall we could have done better, we wanted to get to the Final six, but we did not make it and it was a missed goal. We have room for improvement throughout. Now the group is full and we have everything we need to do our best every day. We now have six weeks to better prepare this beautiful appointment. We will not leave among the favorites and perhaps it will be even better this way. Now our journey has begun, I am sure that Blengini and the staff will bring us to the best of our condition on September 9th for the debut with Japan. That is the only thing in our head. We know we have to work on many aspects, but we have the ambition to experience a great World Championship. It will only be so if we work well, if we keep our feet firmly planted on the ground and if we only think about tackling one game at a time.”
Italy has been at the top of the podium in the World Championship 3 times, in 1990, 1994, and 1998. With that kind of resume, and powerful current squad, it’s hard to agree with Juantorena. Even though Italy’s VNL campaign wasn’t up to par, everyone knows that during WCH and Olympic years, coaches don’t go all out during FIVB’s less glamorous tournaments, opting instead to rest its stars, much like was done with Italy’s Juantorena and Zaytsev.