What a difference a
title makes. The Italian women's volleyball team's
triumph at last year's World Championship has give
them a completely different look heading into the 2003
World Grand Prix starting on July 21, especially since
the tournament will now be played on their home turf.
Having often been the subject of comparison with their
male counterparts the Italian women's team finally won
an international tournament last year - the 2002 World
Championship in Germany - having lost the final of the
European Championship to Russia in 2001. It was a
memorable performance and has finally put them on the
map of genuine international contenders.
This year's World Grand Prix will signal another step
in the process and after two years of not featuring in
the tournament the "Azzurre" will have it in
their sights to make a dream return with honors.
women's team, ranked sixth in the world, have all the
qualities. Last year's Most Valuable Player at the
World Championship and one of Italy's tallest players
Elisa Togut is back to cause havoc with her 192cm
frame while the rest of the squad compliment each
other with passion, drive and a sure-fire spirit which
resembles the "Azzuri".
Volleyball is the most practiced women's sport in
Italy and has received the backing of the national
federation with over 100,000 registered players but it
is only now that Italian women's volleyball is finally
seeing the hard work bear fruit.
With the 2003 World Grand Prix looming, another
international title will be another tasty reward,
especially in front of their home fans.