Italy have a proud volleyball history, having competed in all 25 editions of the World League, and they finished third in last year's tournament on home territory in Florence. They beat Iran 3-0 to take bronze, but failed to end a 14-year gold medal drought. The Azzurri have eight titles, one fewer than Brazil, and they will be looking to repeat their 1995 heroics when they beat the South Americans in the final in front of 25,000 passionate fans in Rio de Janeiro. At the 2014 World Championship, Italy finished joint-13th after coming seventh in their second round pool, despite earning podium finishes throughout 2013.
Although Italy won a bronze medal at the 1948 European Championship, which they hosted, it was only in the early 1970s that they became a major force in the sport. They won a bronze at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games. Then came a lengthy period of domination under the guidance of Julio Velasco. From 1989 to 2005, Italy won three World Championships, one World Cup, six European Championships, eight World Leagues and three Olympic medals (silver at Atlanta 1996, bronze at Sydney 2000 and silver at Athens 2004). They claimed another bronze medal at London 2012.