The Slovenian men’s national volleyball team will compete in three competitions between June and October. Coach Gheorghe Cretu invited 23 volleyball players to the training.
The list of Romanian expert on the Slovenian bench included setters Gregor Pernus, Uros Planinsic, Gregor Ropret and Dejan Vincic, opposites Nik Mujanovic, Jaka Sesek and Toncek Stern, outside hitters Crtomir Bosnjak, Rok Bracko, Klemen Cebulj, Matej Kök, Rok Mozic, Ziga Štern and Tine Urnaut, middle blockers Miha Fink, Danijel Koncilja, Jan Kozamernik, Janu Janez Krzic, Saso Stalekar and Alen Pajenk and liberos Jani Kovacic, Ziga Kumer and Urban Toman.
“During the season, I closely followed all the players who were part of the national team in recent years. For a team that performed well in the World Championship, it is important to stay healthy. The five-month preparation period with three important competitions is approaching. It’s clear that we don’t have time for major changes or testing new things”, selector Cretu revealed at the presentation of the list.
The national team will gather for the first time in less than a month on Monday, May 8, in Ljubljana. At that time, it will not be in the full lineup, as some national team candidates will still have club obligations or will finish with them shortly before that.
“I expect that everyone will be focused on our work during the training sessions and that they will leave behind what happened to them during the club seasons”, said Cretu.
Significant challenges await the Slovenian national volleyball team in the remainder of 2023. In June and July, they will try to collect as many points as possible for the world ranking list in the League of Nations. The end of the summer will bring the European championship, where they will defend the silver medal. The national team period will end in October with the Olympic qualifiers in Japan.
“One of our main goals will be to re-establish a connection between the players as quickly as possible. With all this, we must keep the players in good psychological and physical condition while their motivation has never been questioned. They can’t wait to return to national team training and fight for the Olympics”, adds the 54-year-old coach.
The road to the Olympics will start with three Volleyball Nations League tournaments. First, the Slovenian National Team will travel to Japan (June 6-11), then to France (June 20-25), and finally to the Philippines (July 4-9). In matches worldwide, they want to win a place among the top eight teams and advance to the final tournament at the end of July in Gdansk, Poland.
The road to Olympic Games Paris 2024 will be highly winding. “Shortcut” will be the Olympic qualification tournament in Japan. The best duo from the participating eight (Japan, USA, Slovenia, Serbia, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, and Finland) will fulfill their Olympic dream. For the rest of the teams, the race will continue until the end of the regular season of the Volleyball Nations League in the summer of 2024.
“The boys know what this summer can bring us. Already at the World Cup 2022, we went from match to match and tried to get the most out of them as possible. Every game is important in the qualifying battle for participation in the Olympic Games. It won’t be any different now. Each volleyball player is ready to perform his role to the best of his ability on the way to the team goal. Here I am not only referring to the boys who have been part of the national team for many years but also to the newcomers,” concluded Cretu.