Here is something you don’t see every day... The same coach is simultaneously a reigning world champion, a reigning club world champion and a reigning Volleyball Nations League (VNL) champion, and that is, with three different teams! Yes, this is Daniele Santarelli, who within a period of under a year led the national team of Serbia to the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship crown, the Italian team of Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano to the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship title, and the national team of Türkiye to the women’s VNL gold. And that is on top of numerous other trophies in the 42-year-old Italian coach’s collection, also including Imoco’s domestic golden treble in Italy last club season.
Just last month, with Türkiye’s new addition Melissa Vargas leading the way, the team claimed their first VNL trophy. Upon her debut with the team, the Cuban-born opposite also earned the Most Valuable Player award. But there certainly was another remarkable debut and that was that of coach Santarelli, who steered the Turkish squad to this historic success in his very first competition at the helm of the team.
Shortly after that, while taking a well-deserved vacation on the beach, Daniele Santarelli was happy to answer FIVB.com’s questions.
Congratulations on winning the VNL 2023! Did you expect such a big success in your very first competition at the helm of Türkiye?
“Thank you so much! For sure, this is one of my dreams, to start this way. I could not imagine not only the victory, but also how we played, because for me we played some very good volleyball and this is what every coach wants for his team. I think the abilities of this team were very important and I believe in my decision to move from the national team of Serbia to the national team of Türkiye. What I told the girls was that we would always try to fight for the trophy. This is my mentality: I never just participate in a competition, but I want to try to win every competition every time. I think this was also a dream for my federation and my players and I’m happy that we followed this dream together.”
What was the key to this success? It wasn’t just Vargas, was it?
“No. Vargas gave us a lot for sure. Vargas is one of the best opposites in the world and, for sure, she is very important... But first of all, it was the attitude. I think the attitude of the team was really important, because we had a goal in front of us. We followed this goal and we pushed ourselves to the limit of our strong skills... For sure, there were some moments during the competition when we did not play our best volleyball, but I tried to change the players a lot in finding the best starting six. And I think Vargas was the cherry on top of the cake, but we all built this dream together, in teamwork. For example, our break points don’t depend on one player only. Vargas is a striker, but we also work very well with the block, with the serve, we fight a lot in every kind of defence, and this is an aptitude of the team, not only of one player.”