Adelaide, Australia, May 27, 2015 – Australian volleyball coach Roberto Santilli believes the Volleyroos have a great opportunity to beat Italy in the opening round of the World League in Adelaide this weekend.
He should know, given his long association with volleyball in Italy and the knowledge he has built up on the Australians since taking over as coach at the start of this year.
“Of course, I’m excited,” Santilli said. “This is the start of a new adventure with Australia and because the team and the players feel that the moment is coming.
“And of course we are playing against Italy, so, of course, I should be excited, 100 per cent.”
Italy arrived in Australia without several of their big-name players, but Santilli said they will still be very hard to beat.
“Of course we can beat them,” he said. “That is what I’ve been saying to the players. We have to be aggressive, because this is a young team and we have nothing to lose. I have the feeling that the guys understand this, so we are ready for a big battle against Italy.”
One of Santilli’s first actions as coach was to name 211cm star player Tom Edgar as captain, replacing Aidan Zingel who was unavailable.
The concern was that the captaincy might prove a distraction for Edgar, easily Australia’s most prolific points scorer and an intimidating presence for opposing teams.
But Santilli is confident the big Queenslander can cope.
“He can be the leader of this team, and this is what we expect from him,” Santilli said. “Inside of the court, he is the most important attacker and he’s also the only player in this team who plays in a professional league.
“Of course we have to balance the expectation that we have on him and also balance what he can produce for the team. I’ve spent some time with him and he is really happy to be a leader for the young guys. I think he will be one of the keys, one of the new sensations that this kind of team can give us.”
Australia has played Italy five times in the World League, but has never taken a set off the former World number ones.
But they did lead Italy 2-0 before losing 2-3 at the London Olympics, and Italy has since tumbled to fourth in the world, compared to Australia’s 13th.
Australia takes on Italy on Friday and Saturday at Adelaide Arena, before heading to Brazil to take on the world number ones the following weekend.