London 2012
Italy's Cristian Savani spikes against Great Britain
FIVB Hero Cristian Savani (ITA)
FIVB Heroes: Cristian Savani (ITA) and Natalie Cook (AUS)
FIVB Hero Cristian Savani (ITA)

 

Savani, being blue without blues

London, Great Britain, August 6, 2012 - “We used to be lions, once. After the match with Australia, down 2-0, we saw the hell and then the heaven. We’re a group of fighting hyenas, now. Because we are not beautiful like lions, but dangerous for everyone.” This jungle-style definition of the Italian team in London comes from Michal Lasko, the Polish-born opposite hitter of the team. Probably captain Cristian Savani would not be so happy to lead literally a group of hyenas, but surely he would like the “sport” image of the comparison.

London, Great Britain, August 6, 2012 - “We used to be lions, once. After the match with Australia, down 2-0, we saw the hell and then the heaven. We’re a group of fighting hyenas, now. Because we are not beautiful like lions, but dangerous for everyone.”

This jungle-style definition of the Italian team in London comes from Michal Lasko, the Polish-born opposite hitter of the team. Probably captain Cristian Savani would not be so happy to lead literally a group of hyenas, but surely he would like the “sport” image of the comparison.

Cristian Savani, who married his setter Dragan Travica’s sister Mihaela, was dreaming to become a football player. Unfortunately for him, luckily for the volleyball family, his feet become too big to kick and control the ball. That’s why he switched to volleyball, entering the try-outs of club Montichiari, close to his hometown Castiglione delle Stiviere.

He was dreaming of a different Olympics for his team, but things in the Pool A changed the expression of the smiling faces he had upon his arrival in London. Italy’s path was not so fine. The last match of the pool with Bulgaria was devastating for the team that was trying to aim to the first pool place.

Italy team arrived in London with the usual pressure on their back and some remarkable differences with the other teams and even with the Italian team composition of the recent past. Alessandro Fei acts like middle blocker in the starting six, getting back to his old position after years spent as opposite hitter. The “Italian Giba” Samuele Papi is back despite being  39-year-old as one member of the former “Phenomenons’ Generation”. Italy have two liberos to share the field of play, being the only men’s team of the Olympic Games to use this strategy in a competition which foresee only 12 players in the Olympic list.

Captain Savani needs to be the man on the front line. After a successful year with is club Lube Banca Marche Macerata, ended with his first ever Italian “scudetto” (the Italian championship win), Savani wore again his blue jersey to face one of the most demanding challenges of his sport career.

“We’re proud for having reached the quarter finals, because we’ve done it even if we did not play well. What we hope is to get better. The Olympic Village? In the first two days maybe the village is a big distraction, there were a few problems with logistics and we had our own flag-raising ceremony. But since then the life in the village goes on smoothly, we take advantage of good training sessions, everything seems fine. Going back to the opening ceremony, I have to confess that I was ready to be more touched. Indeed they made a great show and they decided to lower the lights. It was nice for the TV but from the lane we could not see the spectators and we did not have the empathy I desired from the attendance.”

Italy is on a rollercoaster in this Olympic Games. The unreadable match against Australia. Then the loss against Bulgaria and Italy finished only 4th.

“The match against Australia was completely against what we expected. We managed to show our temper after the first two sets and this was probably the first time here in London. We understood that if we stay together and united, we can go far. I was optimistic at the end of the match. But the loss against Bulgaria was tough. I’m sorry because nothing worked in the team. There is nothing to save, neither from the whole team nor for the single players, when you show a match like that.”

Cristian is a specialist of European Championship: he won two different editions in Italy, in 2003 and 2005. And he’s a specialist of jump serve. Until August 6 he is the fastest server with a record jump serve at 127 KM/H. He has placed other 3 outstanding hits among the fastest 10 serves.

“We did not manage to solve the match against Bulgaria with our serve. It’s a well-known weapon of our team, but against Bulgaria that wasn’t working, too. And since another strength we have is our block, which is linked to the opponent passing efficiency, our block is not working properly as well. We will face the USA in the quarterfinals, one of the strongest team. But we have to look at ourselves. Any opponent would have been dangerous in an in-out match.”

Men’s fastest server

127 KM/H           Cristian Savani                  ITA v GRB

127 KM/H           Gyorgy Grozer                 GER v RUS

126 KM/H           Gyorgy Grozer                 GER v USA
126 KM/H           Tsvetan Sokolov              BUL v ARG

125 KM/H           Cristian Savani                  ITA v AUS

124 KM/H           Tsvetan Sokolov              BUL v POL

124 KM/H           Gyorgy Grozer                 GER v SRB

124 KM/H           Ivan Zaytsev                      ITA v POL

124 KM/H           Cristian Savani                  ITA v ARG

120 KM/H           Matt Anderson                 USA v RUS

120 KM/H           Vlado Petkovic                 SRB v USA

 

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The loss against Bulgaria was tough. I’m sorry because nothing worked in the team
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Additional information

These are the 10th Olympic Games in a row for men's Italian national team. They got 2 silver and 2 bronze medals, but never won the gold. The hardest loss was in 1996 in Atlanta against the Netherlands. The famous Azzurri team which was then awarded by FIVB as Best team of the Century lost 17-15 the last fifth set