Last night, after only two days of preparation, the Italian Under-23 national women’s volleyball team, coached by Italian Luca Cristofani, held an exhibition against the K-State volleyball team at Ahearn Field House.
The Italians are on a four game American trip preparing for the Women’s U23 World Championships Open in Tijuana, Mexico.
The Italians won the exhibition in five sets over the Americans after losing the first two.
In order for the Italian team to get the most out of their preparation, they played K-State under international rules. The only alteration to this was that the teams had to play with an NCAA approved ball.
One of those rule changes was the change from the traditional 25-point sets used in the NCAA to faster paced 21-point sets.
“The 21-point sets flew by,” K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said. “Those four points make a lot of difference [to the speed].”
All of the Italian players are coming from professional clubs in Italy to play for their nation’s team.
“These are professional players who are under contract with their clubs coming away to prepare for the world championships,” Fritz said.
The first two sets were trials for the Italians. Only being together for a short time, head coach Luca Cristofani was trying to find a good combination for his team.
The Italians began to hit their stride in the second set, when they fought out of a set point hole to pull to a 18-20 score before their libero Chiara Scarabelli had a serving error to end the set.
In the third set, the Italians came back firing, keeping the Wildcats in a hole throughout. The fourth set was an easy win for Italy; they didn’t even allow the Wildcats tie the score. In a game synching fifth set, the Italians rallied for 10 kills, with Letizia Camera recording seven assists.
As this was only an exhibition for the Italian club, the win didn’t define their night. The fact that their team came together and clinched the game in a comeback manner was what the coaches said they were excited about.
“We came out here with two days of preparation,” explained Italian assistant coach Marco Paglialunga. “This wasn’t a meaningful win; this was a meaningful experience.”
The Italians travel to Lawrence next, where they’ll play the Jayhawks tomorrow night. Then they head to Tulsa, Okla. before finishing off their exhibition trip in Wichita against the Wichita State Shockers.
The inaugural Womens U23 World Championships Open is in Tijuana, Mexico, Oct. 5 through Oct. 12.