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15/04/2016 15:26
Lanza admits winning Champions League crown is one of his ultimate dreams
2016 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men

Krakow, Poland, April 15, 2016. TRENTINO Diatec share with Zenit KAZAN and Belogorie BELGOROD the record for the most titles – three – in the CEV Volleyball Champions League – Men but the Final Four coming up this weekend in Krakow will be the first ever for their young, talented and soft-spoken captain, Filippo Lanza. The 26-year old outside spiker will be leading the Italian heavyweight at TAURON Arena in an attempt to add a fourth crown to those that TRENTINO swept from 2009 through to 2011.

Back in 2012 TRENTINO claimed their last medal in Europe’s elite competition when they settled for bronze at the Final Four tournament held in Lodz, Poland. Filippo was there but he did only follow the matches from the stands while Mitar Tzourits and Massimo Colaci are the only players currently on the roster who performed at what was another sold-out weekend at Atlas Arena. “Of course I am happy with playing my first Final Four and proud of leading the team. This is my first season as team captain, but I am familiar with this role since I captained the Italian youth and junior national teams earlier in my career,” Lanza says. “I know that a lot of responsibility goes with this role but I feel quite comfortable with it, since my task essentially consists in motivating and encouraging my teammates to perform their best, so that they feel the right degree of confidence.”

Filippo has practically spent his entire career with TRENTINO Volley apart from the time he played for Club Italia, the talent programme developed by the Italian Volleyball Federation to grow promising and talented players. This is something quite unusual in an era where Volleyball players easily move from one country to another, even within the same season. “I feel very good in Trento; I do like the city and the club is very professionally organised as well,” Lanza says. “I can sense that people there, including the president, do really trust me, so I could not ask for a better environment. On top of this, the management of the club has always set the highest goals and personally I do want to win everything I can while playing for TRENTINO.”

The Italians are making in Krakow their first Final Four appearance since 2012, when they finished in third place after losing to Zenit KAZAN in the semis before edging Arkas IZMIR in the bronze medal match. Since TRENTINO have a fairly young roster, their qualification for the Finals in Krakow was not an easy feat to achieve and not something Lanza is taking for granted. “Maybe at the beginning of the season it was difficult to predict how far this journey would have taken us, especially since we have a young team, but we have grown match after match and I am especially proud that this qualification for the Final Four is the result of a real team effort.

“Some players, including myself, have struggled with injuries and did not perform in the Playoffs but nevertheless we were able to edge Volley ASSE-LENNIK and Belogorie BELGOROD to claim a spot in the Finals. As some of the starters were plagued by injuries, other players stepped in and did a really good job during the Playoffs, so everyone has contributed to this qualification,” Lanza points out.

Speaking about the Final Four, Lanza is very determined not to waste any opportunity to add more accolades to the already impressive showcase of TRENTINO: “The Champions League is definitely one of the major goals set by our club this year and we want to make the best use of this chance,” he stresses.

TRENTINO will be playing arch-rivals Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA in Saturday’s second semi-final: “They have many world-class players on their roster, who can boast a lot of experience at this level. We know this rivalry has been lasting for quite many years already, but this does not come as a surprise, since these clubs have been leading the way in Italy for some time already,” Lanza continues. “We both come from two straight losses in the semis of our national league, so I believe that we are both extremely motivated and determined to show that we can stop this negative streak and do well on the international stage provided by the Champions League.”

The match-up starring TRENTINO and CIVITANOVA will coincide with the last time two teams from the same country are ‘obliged’ to play each other in the Champions League semis as this rule will be dropped as from next year. “This is a good thing and from an Italian perspective, I think it would be nice if one day two Italian teams will be standing on each side of the net with Europe’s most prestigious crown at stake. This would be something truly remarkable and it would confirm the strength and depth of our Volleyball school,” Lanza says.

Though he is fully focussed on the Final Four weekend, Filippo is already looking forward to a busy summer with the Italian national team, which will start with the World League and reach its climax with the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. An experience he can hardly wait for, and which is going to crown his career with the national team less than three years since his debut as a starting player at the 2013 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Japan.

“It is true that my rise and development has been a steady and pretty fast one, but this stems from a well-thought programme designed by my club as well as by the coaching staff of the national team,” Lanza points out. “And of course, I have been working really hard for this to happen. I am really very much looking forward to the Olympics and will try and soak up the experience to the fullest. Many people have told me that the Olympics is something truly unique but for the time being I am fully focussed on the Champions League finals. Winning this title is indeed on top of my wish list,” he concludes.

Click here for further information and visit the official website www.assecoresovia.pl/en/newsfinalfour/

A live gallery of the competition will be available right here; on social media please use the official competition hashtags #CEVChampionsLeagueM and #CLF4Krakow  

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