This afternoon Budowlani Lodz (6) played at home against Tauron MKS Dabrowa Gornicza (3) and eventually lost 2:3. After the game I did a little interview with Tauron’s middle-blocker currently playing as libero, Italian player, Milena Stacchiotti. She told me about her team’s comeback, how she spends time on a bus travelling from town to town and what she thinks about playing voleyball in a skirt. Enjoy!

Przeczytaj ten wywiad po polsku.

You girls are fighters! It was definitely tough for you to come back after first two lost sets. What did you do to motivate yourselves like that?
I don’t know. I feel like we know we can play really good and we are a strong team. We just have to want to play. When we decide to play, everything changes, because we start to play in our way and can do everything better. Then we are really dangerous for everybody. There are lots of strong teams in this championship, but we know that if we’re playing in our way we don’t have to be afraid of anyone. And this is it. It’s always expected of us to play in the best way possible, which is difficult, because we are all humans. Sometimes we start good and sometimes not. The most important thing is, even if we don’t have a good day, to try to play our best and win.

I agree. And maybe in the beginning of the game it was so difficult for you because you had a tough week not only with Orlen Liga games, but also Champions League match. You play another game in ChL on Tuesday, so it must be very tiring.
Yes it is. We leave for Turkey first thing in the morning.

Wow, that’s fast. Tell me more about this travelling thing. I read your piece in the latest issue of Pallavoliamo webzine and you wrote there, that after arriving to Poland you had trouble getting used to long trips. Has it changed since then? Is it better now?
Yes, it is. In the beginning everything was so new for me and so it was difficult to find a way to cope with going on long trips and how not to get tired. Now I’m really ok. During these trips, even if they’re really long, I’m watching films or talking to my friends and even do some knitting. [laughs]

Yes. [laughs] Thanks to my teacher Madzia (Magda Sliwa, MKS Dabrowa Gornicza’s setter — JN) I’m learning how to knit, so I’m spending time on the bus this way. I’m really happy, because I’m preparing some Christmas gifts for my family. So I spend my time this way. The only bad thing about travelling this much is that it’s not really good for the body. This night we’re going back home and right away have to pack our bags for the next trip. We have lots of hours to spend on the plane etc. and it’s not easy. But this is our work and it’s a pleasure to play in Champions League

And you still have a chance to advance to the next round.
Yeah, so we have to try to do our best there.

Tell me how is playing as a libero working out for you? (Milena was a receiver some time ago, but for a couple of years now she has been playing mostly as a middle-blocker — JN) Do you feel like you’re getting better and better at this?
Everything was so strange for me at the beginning. You know, I came here as a middle-blocker, but then I had to play as libero to help my team, because our libero Krysia (Krystyna Strasz — JN) has health problems and she needs time to recover. I just try to do my best. I think that step by step I’m getting better. Every time is easier for me and I’m happy I can help. I don’t know if I’d like to continue playing as libero in the future though. Going from spiker and middle-blocker to libero is a really big change, but I’m enjoying it and if the team needs me as libero, I’ll be that. I like playing in general, but I hope that next time I’ll play as a spiker or… I don’t know, universal player! [laughs]

Last question and you may think of it as a funny one, but I just had to ask you. Your team is one of the very few in the league that wear skirts instead of shorts as a part of your game outfits. I’m not going to ask you if they’re more comfortable, because it’s a predictable question. Instead I want to ask you something else. Don’t you think those skirts are making the stereotype about women’s volleyball being a beauty contest even worse?
Well, I don’t know. For me it was just another new and strange thing. In Italy we don’t have such trends. The club said we’re going to play in skirts and I was like: “WHAT? No, I can’t believe it!” [laughs] The first game was difficult in that matter, you know, to get used to it. I’m an athlete and we usually don’t get to dress so elegant on the court. And even off the court it’s mostly about being comfortable: jeans, t-shirts etc. But it’s okay to dress up sometimes, you know: put on a dress and wear high heels. And so those skirts for me are just a way to show our femininity. The beginning was really strange, I didn’t understand it, but now it’s pretty nice. The way we get to wear those skirts isn’t bad. And it’s also nice for the public to see something different. It’s new, but it’s not bad for women athletes. We just shouldn’t think too much about playing in skirts, we have to play and enjoy the game.

Thank you very much and good luck in your next games.
Thank you!

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You can follow Milena on Twitter.

Also I wanted to tell you that sadly that was my last interview of this volleyball season (at least the Polish one). I’m moving out of Lodz next week and after New Year’s I’m leaving for Finland. But be sure to come back and read my blog about my Erasmus fellowship. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to do some sport interviews there? =]