After their fifth-place finish at the 2013 World Grand Prix, Italy dropped to ninth in Group 1 last year under the guidance of Marco Bonitta. The Italians had a good run at the World Grand Prix after the turn of the millennium, winning silver medals in 2004 and 2005 and bronze in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But performances have dipped recently with 2013’s fifth being preceded by finishes of seventh in 2011 and 10th in 2012. They host some big fixtures in this year’s edition as week three matches will be played in Catania when giants Brazil and Russia come to the island of Sicily.
Last summer was Italy’s big chance to impress as they hosted the women’s World Championship. In front of large and often passionate crowds at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan, they went all the way to the semifinals where they lost to China before being defeated by powerhouses Brazil in the bronze medal match. Italy won World Cup titles in 2007 and 2011 and the Grand Champions Cup in 2009. At the last European Championship in 2013, they came sixth after losing to Serbia in straight sets in the quarterfinals in Zurich. The future could be bright for the Italians as they took third place at the European Junior Championships in 2012, after winning the worldwide version the previous season.