Urnaut helping Slovenia hit new heights


Tine Urnaut will be playing for Slovenia in World League Group 3

Ljubiljana, Slovenia, April 17, 2016 – Tine Urnaut has been a busy man over the last few months, but he is hoping to keep his schedule filled as the volleyball season unfolds. 

Over the last year he has helped Slovenia to silver at the 2015 European Volleyball Championship, which came on the back off success in the CEV Volleyball European League which they won after winning 12 consecutive matches. 

Now he is looking forward to helping Slovenia to success in Group 3 of the 2016 FIVB World League. They host Qatar, Tunisia and Venezuela in the first round of matches from June 17-19 and then take on Qatar, Greece and Puerto Rico in Thessaloniki with the aim of reaching the Group 3 Final Four weekend in Frankfurt on July 1-3.

“We had been waiting for this moment to come for a few years, because we knew we had a group of good players and we showed that at junior level, but we somehow seemed to always miss out on our chances,” Urnaut said. 

“We finally were able to move to the next level after we started working under Andrea Giani. He brought a lot more discipline to the group and more consistency to our game. The EuroVolley was something truly exceptional and now we want to confirm that this result did not come by chance. The silver medal we won in Sofia was a special moment for our country and an unprecedented success.”

Italian Giani was appointed Slovenia’s head coach in March 2015. As a player he starred for Parma and Modena and won five Italian championships and five Italian Cups. He was capped a record 474 times for Italy and won two Olympic silver and one bronze, three FIVB World Championships and four European Championships. 

Coached by a volleyball great

After he began coaching Giani served as an assistant coach with the Italian national team from 2011-2014, when they won silver at the European Championships in 2011 and 2013 and a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“Much credit goes to our coach who has turned all this into results,” Urnaut said. “We respect and hold Andrea in great esteem after what he did as a player, for his coaching skills, but especially as a person. Everybody in Slovenia loves him.”  

Urnaut is one of a number of Slovenian players who have benefitted from playing abroad, in his case with Trentino Diatec in Italy’s Serie A. He helped them to league success and then silver at the CEV Volleyball Champions League, where he faced national teammate Klemen Cebuli, who was playing for Cucine Lube Civitanova in the semifinals. 

Trentino ultimately lost (23-25, 22-25, 25-17, 27-25, 15-13) Zenit Kazan, but such is his and Cebuli’s popularity that a number of Slovenian journalists travelled to host city Krakow to report on the pair’s performances. 

“I think most of our players profited from the experience they got from playing abroad, and especially in Italy, which has definitely one of the most competitive national leagues in the world,” Urnaut said. 

“We very much hope that more and more people will start following volleyball and with it the attention from sponsors and media should increase accordingly. We have had some success in basketball and handball in the past, but I think this is now the moment for volleyball to take centre stage in Slovenia.”


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