Andrea Giani (right) has high hopes for his team at this year's World League
Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 14, 2016 – Slovenia coach Andrea Giani has called on his Slovenia players to show that their silver medal at the 2015 European Championships was no accident and a sign of his side’s growing status as a growing volleyball nation.
Slovenia welcome Tunisia, Venezuela and Qatar for three days of FIVB Volleyball World League Group 3 competition at the Stozice Arena Ljubljana on June 17, 18 and 19 and their debut in the competition.
Giani’s side will go into the matches full of confidence after only France, the World League champions, stopped them becoming European champions last year.
“We will play against good teams, good opponents,” Giani said. “They will all try to do their best here and prove themselves against us. We are no longer some underdogs like we were before last year, now we are European silver medallists and we have to play all matches as the second best team in Europe.
“It’s a huge responsibility for my team, but at the same time a great pleasure and opportunity. We respect all three teams, but we want to prove that the past results weren't just a coincidence, but a result of hard work and the potential this team has.”
Slovenia will begin against Qatar on Friday, take on Tunisia on Saturday and complete the round of matches against Venezuela on Sunday.
They have already jumped 14 places in the FIVB Volleyball Rankings to 25th and are now aiming to win Group 3, which would earn them promotion to Group 2 for 2017.
“We've waited for this debut for 10 years and now we have the chance to establish ourselves among the best teams in the world in front of a home crowd,” captain Tine Urnaut said. “Although this season will be very important for us, we aren't feeling any pressure and are not nervous.
“It's crucial that we play with the same team spirit as we did last year in the European Championship. We want to play high-level volleyball and enjoy ourselves on the court at the same time.”