Debutants seal first snow volleyball win for Croatia
Venier and Sosic travelled to the Alpine resort without having contested any match on snow before and did not know what to expect. However, after taking some time to adjust to the local conditions, they pulled out a historic victory for their country as they rallied to a 2-0 (14-12, 11-8) win over Italy’s Michael Pallhuber and Johannes Hanni.
“We never played on snow before,” Sosic admitted. “We actually live on the Adriatic coast and Croatia does not offer that many opportunities to play on snow. I am 38 and did not play indoors or on the beach for the last four, five years, so I did not know what to expect for many different reasons, but now we can proudly state that we made history for Croatia today.”
Sosic and Venier are not the first Croatian team to compete on the European Tour – compatriots Josip Pribanic and Matija Sulc did so a few weeks ago in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia – but it is interesting to discover why they decided to make the journey to Kronplatz.
“Most of all we came here to promote and advertise a Green Volleyball tournament, which takes place every year in our hometown in early September,” Venier said. “The sponsors of that tournament decided they would pay our journey and support us, so we hope to get involved as many people as possible in ‘our’ event because this is a really cool one! It lasts for three days and it takes place on an idyllic island, where the participants can spend the whole weekend playing volleyball and having fun.”
The event at Fratarski Island is a must-see for many people and it regularly attracts players from Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. “We hope that many of the players competing here will join us for this year’s tournament,” the Croatians said.
Playing on snow has been an experience on its own. “Honestly, at the beginning I felt like we were playing indoors because the surface was so hard,” Sosic admitted. “I also did not know what to wear – so it was all about improvising and trying to find the balance, which we were ultimately able to do as the match progressed. I think we did a good job and I expect the snow will become a lot softer during the day once the sun comes out.”
Venier and Sosic had planned to compete at Plan de Corones before but circumstances conspired against them. “Two years ago, my partner could not make the trip and last year I had surgery on my knee,” Venier said. “Finally it did happen today and we won our first match, so it was all worth it!”