Could Women’s Volleyball emerge over soccer as “the” sport for women to play in Italy?
The FIVB seems to think so. “Volleyball has the most female participants than any other sport in Italy, indicating the sport’s rising popularity.” The Italian professional volleyball league is widely regarded as one of the best leagues in the world, attracting top talent from volleyball powerhouses such as the USA (2), Serbia (7), and Germany (9).
Making moves to be one of the world powerhouses in women’s volleyball is no easy feat, and there are few recent success stories about countries emerging in to the elite level of play as impressive as Italy’s recent move. Starting in 2000, the Italian National Women’s Volleyball team qualified for its first Olympics, finishing in 9th place overall and has not looked back since.
The tremendous support that volleyball in Italy has seen over the past thirteen years may be a leading factor to the recent success it has seen, with its Senior Women’s national team currently being ranked 4th in the current FIVB World Rankings. Prior to that, the Italian Women’s Volleyball Team’s best finish was a 5th place finish at the FIVB world championship in 1998.
The structure of Italian Women’s Volleyball is as follows; Serie A1 is the premier Volley league in Italy, followed by Serie A2, B1, and B2. The majority of these exceptionally well trained and high level teams train and compete in Northern Italy around Milan, Torino, and Modena to name a few.
Estimates for equivalent competition for these teams are as follows:
Serie A1: Premier National/Olympic Level Team
Serie A2: Premier Division 1 College/University Programs
Serie B1: Top Division 1 College/University Programs
Serie B2: Mid/Lower Division 1 College Programs and Premier Division II College/University
Programs U18 National: Top Division II Programs