Lewis to play Italy, Slovenia in preseason European trip

Photo courtesy of Lewis athletics.

Bring on both the Italian and Slovenian men’s junior national teams and a European road trip to open the college men’s volleyball preseason.

Lewis announced on Tuesday that it will play a five-match road series against Italy and Slovenia starting next week.

“Everyone is really hungry for this year’s regular season, so getting the chance to get a head start on it by going to some of the most exciting places in the world is driving us to work hard while we train,” libero Jake Walenga said in an interview with the Lewis athletics department. “There’s truly no better feeling than getting to do nothing but play sports with your best friends for a few weeks, and we’re taking full advantage of that.”

Lewis will open the trip on Monday and spend three days in Maribor, Slovenia. The Flyers will then travel to Milan and Rome for matches against the Italian Men’s Junior National Team, the Italian Boys’ Youth National Team or local club teams.

The team also will visit Venice along with Pisa or Florence during the Italian portion of its road trip.

This is the first overseas trip in the Flyers’ program history. In addition, the team raised more than $90,000 last year to fund this European preseason road trip.

Lewis ended last season at No. 1 in the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Division II National Coaches Poll and advanced to the conference tournament semifinals. Among the starters returning for the Flyers includes All-American outside attacker Ryan Coenen and All-MIVA setter Matt Yoshimoto.

Italy enters these exhibition matches after finishing in seventh place at the U20 European Championship. Slovenia finished that tournament outside of the top 25 and failed to qualify for the 12-team final round.