Lausanne, Switzerland, June 7, 2016 – Italian-Argentine volleyball star Carolina Costagrande has signed with Italian champions Imoco Volley Conegliano.
She previously won three Italian titles with Scavolini Pesaro before moving through Russia, China, Turkey and Poland. Now she is back in A1.
“I had no doubts about this move,” she says. “The Italian Championship has grown and has become very strong. In particular, Imoco spent years setting up a project to get to the top. Now, they have succeeded and they want to stay there, as well as trying to succeed in Europe. The coaching staff were a strong factor in my choice; David (Mazzanti) and his staff are solid. You can’t get better.
“I'm happy and honoured and very motivated. There are good reasons to play abroad, but Italy is my home. It was here that I grew up as a volleyball player, representing the national team, so the pull here is that much stronger.”
Costagrande is one of a number of Italian players to return from foreign leagues in recent years. Eleonora Lo Bianco, Simona Gioli, Paola Cardullo, Caterina Bosetti and Valentina Arrighetti have all returned after experiences in Europe and beyond.
“Italy is a beautiful country, so you feel fine here,” Costagrande says. “Serie A helped us to grow and become mature players. The Italian Championship lost a bit for a few years but now it’s back at the highest level. It’s a prestigious tournament and an important place to be.”
A number of top players, both Italian and foreign, have chosen to play in Serie A1 for its high technical level and the unique atmosphere in the stadiums. So the average competitiveness has been growing progressively and the championship has become more attractive both to many established players and young talents, a virtuous circle that produces quality and performance.
And that benefits the national team. In fact, the number of female players from Italy playing in foreign leagues has gradually diminished.
In the London Olympics in 2012, there were five female athletes out of 12 (or 42%): Paola Cardullo (RC Cannes - FRA), Carolina Costagrande (Guangdong Hengda - CHN), Antonella Del Core (Fakel Novy Urengoi - RUS), Simona Gioli (Fakel Novy Urengoi – RUS/ Galatasaray - TUR), Eleonora Lo Bianco (Galatasaray - TUR).
At the World Championship in Italy in 2014, the proportion was similar with six out of 14 athletes from foreign championships (43%): Valentina Arrighetti (Lokomotiv Baku - AZE), Caterina Bosetti (Osasco VC – BRA/ Galatasaray SK - TUR), Nadia Centoni (RC Cannes – FRA/ Galatasaray SK - TUR), Carolina Costagrande (Vakıfbank Istanbul - TUR), Antonella Del Core (Dinamo Kazan - RUS), Eleonora Lo Bianco (Galatasaray SK – TUR/ Fenerbahce TUR).
But ahead of the two pre-Olympic tournaments of 2016, the percentage drops dramatically. Only three of the 14 athletes in Ankara (21%) were from foreign clubs: Lucia Bosetti (Fenerbahce - TUR), Nadia Centoni (Galatasaray - TUR) and Antonella Del Core (Dinamo Kazan - RUS). This was reduced to two (14%) in the Tokyo tournament where Italy booked their ticket to Rio.
Finally, among the 14 girls named for the first weekend of games in the FIVB World Grand Prix, there is not one player from a foreign club.