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28/12/2020 10:00
Reigning #CLVolleyW champions NOVARA feature in latest ‘Pass the Pod’ episode
Pass the Pod

Luxembourg, December 28, 2020. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis resulted in the cancellation of the late stages of all European Cups in early 2020, Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA are ‘still’ the titleholders of the elite CEV Champions League Volley. In the latest episode of our ‘Pass the Pod’ series, we virtually sat down with Nika Daalderop and Micha Hancock, two of their star players, and with Giuseppe Maddaluno, who has been working for the team for many years and has shared all of their successes in his capacity of Media Officer.

Many know the story already but it is worth recalling it again – one of the top clubs in women’s Volleyball was born in 1984, upon the initiative of a nun, Sister Giovanna Saporiti, who wanted to provide young girls from that neighbourhood with an opportunity to express themselves through sport. “The club made it to the top division of the Italian national league for the first time in 2001 but the current management stepped back afterwards to re-focus on the original mission to work with young players,” Maddaluno said. “With the help of the city of Novara and many sponsors – we count as many as 90 – since 2012 we have managed to make this one of the top clubs in Italy and around the world.”

Igor Volley claimed their only national league title to this date in May of 2017, but their resume includes three national cup titles, one Supercup and the CEV Champions League Volley crown they seized at the historic Super Finals held in Berlin in 2019. “It obviously makes you feel very proud to play for such a team that has been competing for the top prizes for so many years,” said young Dutch outside hitter Daalderop. “We feel that we represent a big name in women’s Volleyball and for this reason, all of the teams we play want to beat us.”

“This is my second year at Novara and I feel privileged to have been able to work with two equally good coaches,” Hancock continued, echoing the feelings of Daalderop. This, obviously, raises high expectations. “We have been taking it one match at a time, but we obviously want to have a great season. Having a great season means you win the Champions League title again, whilst a good season would see us finish among the top three, four of the competition,” the American setter added.

Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA started their quest for a second continental crown in the best possible way back in November when they recorded three wins in a row in the round-robin tournament that they hosted on home soil. “This year the Champions League looks a bit different than usual with the revised format. It is indeed quite difficult to play back-to-back-to-back, I mean three matches in a row with top teams, and you need to find a way to recover and rest. However, as players, we obviously wish for international competitions to take place despite the pandemic,” Hancock said. “Moreover, we do not have to travel that extensively as teams had to do before, and this is obviously an advantage in these difficult times,” Daalderop added.

Waiting for the second round robin tournament to take place in early February in Poland, NOVARA can enjoy a bit the holiday season before the start of the second half of the regular season in the highly competitive Italian league. Asked to ‘pass the pod’ to another team, Hancock did not show any hesitation, as she picked Leo Shoes MODENA where a star American player is performing, yet another setter whose first name is almost identical to hers… Micah Christenson!

Stay tuned for the next episode to follow soon!

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