Toyama, Japan, September 23, 2019 – Argentina entered the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup as the second-ranked South American team, and have brought back several players to help in their 2019 campaign. Julieta Constanza Lazcano, Lucia Fresco, and Tatiana Rizzo are among the players returning to Japan after also participating in the competition in 2015.
“I’m very happy to come back to Japan. The hospitality here is good and I appreciate that,” said Lazcano, the 30-year-old middle blocker.
Lazcano receives a warm welcome from the crowd in Hamamatsu Arena
“Japan is an incredible country. We were here in the 2015 World Cup, and now we’re back to work again in this spectacular place,” said Argentine libero Rizzo.
'Work' for the Argentine squad means getting as much done as possible in preparation for the Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament in January 2020. The event has been head coach Hernan Ferraro's main focus since recently taking responsibility for the team.
“This is an important tournament and our goal is to compete strongly against these strong teams. We feel this is going to be a good preparation ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers,” said Ferraro during the press conference at the start of the competition.
During the first round in Hamamatsu, Argentina played against current world champions Serbia, two-time VNL titlists USA, former Olympic champions Brazil, and former European champions the Netherlands.
Their sole victory came via a 3-0 match (25-14, 25-19, 25-15) against Kenya, in which Fresco led all scorers with 22 points.
“It is important to come back to Japan and when I am here I can get that volleyball 'feeling'. In this competition, there are many strong teams and this is a good opportunity to grow and evolve,” Fresco said.
Lucia Fresco on attack
“We are in the phase of improving, in every way possible. When we see that there are many differences between our team and the others, we always take these observations positively to improve ourselves,” remarked Rizzo
Observations have come in handy for the returning players whose roles have likewise evolved. Lazcano now leads the team as the captain.
Lazcano and Fresco share their comments during a press conference at the Toyama City Gymnasium
“Four years ago, we were young and we were just starting to compete in big tournaments. This time, we need to lead the young players the way to change and improve,” said Lazcano.
Rizzo also feels that her role goes beyond that of a libero, especially to the newer members of the team.
“With the age difference in our team, the more experienced players such as myself can help the younger ones. We talk to them to motivate them or to calm them down in nervous moments,” said Rizzo.
Argentina will have one more match in Toyama (vs Cameroon on September 24, Tuesday at 05:00 GMT) before they travel to Osaka for the final stretch of the World Cup.
“I believe that, at each time, Argentina, can only become better,” Rizzo shared.