I know, I know: the whole Europe is all about UEFA Euro 2012 right now, but don’t forget that also World Grand Prix starts on 8th June. And one of the locations is Atlas Arena, Lodz, which means I’ll definitely be on the site to see the matches and talk to one of the best voleyball players in the world.
And by one of the best I mean: Serbia, Italy and Brazil. Also Poland, but you know, our girls didn’t qualify for the Olympics (and they were SO CLOSE!).
Since 2012 is the year of the Olympic Games, World Grand Prix isn’t really a priority for the qualified teams. And that’s the reason why most coaches decided to try out some young players and leave the best ones “at home”, where they can be properly prepared for the biggest tournament this summer.
So Brazil is coming only with Mari and Dani Lins and the rest of the team is composed mainly of young players from the Brazilian Superliga [source]. Italy is no different, yet we will get to see Ortolani, Piccinini, Bosetti, Barcellini and Arrighetti. Serbia‘s roster is more familiar, since Ognjenović, Antonijević, Brakočević, Nikolić, Molnar, Vesović, Krsmanović and Ćebić are all in it. Also the participation of Ivana Đerisilo is a big surprise, since she haven’t played for the national team for several years now.
Polish squad is mostly the one that competed in the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Ankara. So there’ll be Skowrońska-Dolata, Kosek, Kaczor, Skorupa, Maj and Okuniewska.
Right now it’s hard to say what each team aims for. Brazil, obviously, will test the young players in hard conditions. Italy and Serbia will probably be trying to get in the game before the Olympics. And Poland? Well, since they’re not going to London, they should at least try to place high. Last year’s 10th place is definitely not what this team is really capable of. Two years ago they were 6th, but I think they could even be in the top 4. I mean, really. The girls showed great spirit at the Qualifiction Tournament and they lost only one game — the final with Turkey.
During the WGP tournament in Lodz this weekend I’ll try to have a talk with players from each team, ask them what are their goals and a bunch of other stuff, so be sure to come back here during the weekend to find one of those interviews!