Captain - Emanuele Birarelli
Emanuele Birarelli has been playing for the Italian national team since 2008 when he mad his debut in a friendly match against Spain in Modena, Italy. The middle blocker enjoyed a successful 2013. He was promoted to captain of the Italian volleyball team in November, after being named Best Middle Blocker at the 2013 Grand Champions Cup in Tokyo, Japan. He was also named in the 2013 World League Dream Team as Best Blocker after he helped Italy to a third-place finish.
Birarelli began playing the sport at age 15 and he has twice represented his country at an Olympic Games, finishing fourth at Beijing 2008, and winning a bronze medal with Italy at London 2012. He played for the national teams that finished second at the 2011 and 2013 European Championships, and sixth at the 2010 World Championship in Italy. Due to a heart problem he did not play for two seasons between 2003 and 2005.
Star Player - Ivan Zaytsev
Ivan Zaytsev made his international debut for Italy against Belarus in Ankara, Turkey in 2010. In the same year he was part of the national team that finished fourth on home soil at the 2010 World Championship. After winning a silver medal at the 2011 European Championship, he won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
In 2013 he added individual awards and more medals to his growing haul of honours. He was named in the World League Dream Team as the Best Outside Hitter after Italy finished third, and at the European Championship he was named Best Server as he helped Italy to finish in second place. He also won a bronze medal at the 2013 Grand Champions Cup. In 2014 he helped Italy repeat their 2013 World League performance as he collected another bronze medal in the competition.
Born in Soleto, Italy, Ivan's family have a strong sporting heritage in the former Soviet Union. His mother Irina Pozdnyakova was a Soviet swimmer who won a silver medal in the 200m breastroke at the 1966 European Championship in Utrecht, Netherlands. His father Viacheslav won a gold medal as part of the Soviet Union volleyball team at the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games.