Teams Preview P1

Last year's finalists, Imoco and Milano will again be among the contenders (Photo: Lega Pallavolo)

The 2023 international volleyball season came to an end for the women this past weekend, when the 24 best national teams on the planet competed in the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

The top international players will all soon be back in action, now with their club teams, as national leagues are about to start around the world. Many of them will be competing at the Italian Lega Pallavolo Femminile Serie A1, which is vastly considered the top national league on the planet and will, for a third-straight season, have all matches streamed live on VBTV.

  • Watch Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 matches live on VBTV.

The first matches of the 2023-2024 season will take place on October 7 and there’s been a lot of movement between players since the end of their last campaign. To help you keep up-to-date on what each team looks like before they first get on the court, we’ve prepared a preview covering all of them. Here is all the information you need on the first seven Lega Femminile title contenders:

Allianz Vero Volley Milano

After settling for silver in the last two seasons, Milano made arguably the biggest signing of the off-season, bringing star opposite Paola Egonu back to Italy after one year in Türkiye. Egonu was one of several relevant additions made by the team, which also signed Dominican star libero Brenda Castillo, Belgian middle blocker Laura Heyrman and a strong trio of outside hitters in American Kara Bajema, Dutch Nika Daalderop and French Héléna Cazaute. Milano were also able to keep several of their key players, most notably setter Alessia Orro, outside hitter Myriam Sylla and middle blockers Dana Rettke and Raphaela Folie. Among the team’s most noticeable departures are American outside hitter Jordan Larson, Serbian middle blocker Jovana Stevanović and opposites Magdalena Stysiak and Jordan Thompson.

Honda Olivero S. Bernardo Cuneo

Cuneo were 11th last season and made moves in virtually every area of their roster ahead of their 2023-2024 campaign. At opposite, Terry Enweonwu, a 2022 Volleyball Nations League champion with Italy, arrives to replace French international Lucille Gicquel. The team has added more experience at outside hitter, with German Lena Stigrot and Swedish Anna Haak joining the squad following the departures of Russian Sofya Kuznetsova and American Danielle Drews – another American, Madison Kubik, also arrives to give the team an extra option at the position. Cuneo will also have two new liberos in Federica Ferrario and Serena Scognamillo and still added French middle blocker Amandha Sylves, but has been able to keep setter Noemi Signorile and American middle blocker Anna Hall for another season.

Igor Gorgonzola Novara

The third-placed team on the Lega Femminile in 2022-2023, Novara underwent some significant changes ahead of the upcoming season. Gone are Olympic champion American setter Jordyn Poulter, Turkish star opposite/outside hitter Ebrar Karakurt and veteran Cuban outside hitter Kenia Carcaces, among others. Italian national team setter Francesca Bosio will call the shots on offense while Turkish Melis Durul and Russian Vita Akimova will fight for the starting spot at opposite. Novara also signed three outside hitters with international experience – Dutch Anne Buijs, German Hanna Orthmann and Hungarian Gréta Szakmáry – to join 2022 VNL champion Caterina Bosetti. The middle remains unchanged, with Anna Danesi, Cristina Chirichella and Sara Bonifacio providing options, as well as libero, with Eleonora Fersino starting her third season with the team.

Il Bisonte Firenze

After ranking sixth last season, Firenze will look a lot different in 2023-2024 after going through several changes in the off-season. The team’s top scorer, Belgian outside hitter Britt Herbots, and star setter Ofelia Malinov lead a departure list that also includes national team opposite Sylvia Nwakalor and Belgian outside hitter Celine van Gestel. Japanese outside hitter Mayu Ishiwaka is a standout name in a long list of signings made by Firenze, which also includes national team middle blocker Alessia Mazzaro, Ukrainian opposite Anastasiia Kraiduba, German outside hitter Lina Alsmeier, Swedish outside hitter Alexandra Lazić, setter Illaria Battistoni and libero Giulia Leonardi.

Itas Trentino

Promoted to the Italian elite after a second-place finish in the country’s division in 2022-2023, Trentino maintained some of their young revelations but also made some signings to add more experience to the squad. Among them are Russian outside hitter Yana Shcherban and Italian opposite Valentina Zago. Also joining the team this season will be American middle blocker Madeleine Gates and Italian setter Gaia Guiducci, the Most Valuable Player of the 2021 U20 World Championship. Some of the most noticeable returning pieces are American opposite Carly DeHoog, middle blocker Gaia Moretto and outside hitter Francesca Michieletto, the older sister of Italian men’s national team star Alessandro Michieletto.

Megabox Ondulati Savio Vallefoglia

Vallefoglia were the first team above the relegation line last season, finishing 12th and securing their spot in the Italian elite for a third-straight season. The team was able to keep two of their four international stars from last season, with Russian outside hitter Tatiana Kosheleva and Serbian middle blocker Maja Aleksić continuing and Americans Micha Hancock and Annie Drews departing. Vallefoglia signed Dutch veteran Laura Dijkema to start at the setter position and added Camilla Mingardi at opposite. The team also did a good job in adding Italian talent to its squad, signing senior national team outside hitter Alice Degradi and youth national team standouts in setter Viola Passaro and outside hitter Beatrice Gardini.

Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano

Five-time defending champions Imoco will try to continue to reign supreme in the Lega Femminile in 2023-2024. Maintaining the core of the team that lifted the trophy last season was the club’s priority and, despite the departure of their Finals super-sub Alexa Gray, Imoco achieved that, bringing back ten of the 14 players that dressed for the last match against Milano – while also adding American outside hitter Khalia Lanier. Imoco continue to have one of the strong rosters in the world, featuring Polish Joanna Wołosz at setter, Swedish Isabella Haak at opposite, Americans Kathryn Plummer and Kelsey Robinson and Italian Alessia Gennari at outside hitter, Italians Federica Squarcini, Sarah Fahr and Marina Lubian and Dutch Robin De Kruijf at middle blocker and Italian Monica De Gennaro at libero.