The Italian Almanac

the Italian team

World Cup Winners

Italy won the women's volleyball World Cup with a 3-0 shut-out of the United States. This was the first time that the current European champions and 2002 world champions have won the cup and was the result of an undefeated record at the 12-nation round robin tournament. This brought Italy's winning streak to 21 matches since September 8.

''This is a fantastic reward for these girls. This team demonstrated it has the mentality and physical condition to overcome all obstacles and keep fighting until the very end,'' said coach Massimo Barbolini after the final. Italy swept the USA 25-20, 25-18 and 27-25 and brought to 10 its 3-0 victories out of 11 matches in the tournament. Despite its defeat, the USA will join Italy at the 2008 Beijing Olympics along with Brazil, which placed third in the World Cup.

''Right now I don't think what we've done here has really sunk in. We'll celebrate this achievement when we get back to Italy,'' Barbolini said. ''This was supposed to be a season to set the groundwork for an Olympic year but it turned into a triumphant march in which we won the European championship and now the World Cup,'' he added.

The key to winning, the coach explained, ''is to have a strong group of players. The merits of a coach can only be judged by what they do on the court but what is most important is the quality of the athlete''.