SAN GIOVANNI IN MARIGNANO, Italy — After starring for four years on Middle Tennessee’s volleyball team, Dora Peonia headed home this summer to fulfill her dream.
While wrapping up her marketing degree at MT, Peonia started the process to become a professional player. She signed with an agent, and offers began pouring in, including one from Omag Consolini Volley, a team in Italy’s Serie A2 league located in San Giovanni in Marignano in northeastern Italy.
“I was very thrilled. It was like a dream come true … since I started when I was 10, I have always waited for this moment,” she said.
As she was weighing her offers, plenty stood out about Consolini Volley, the squad she eventually signed with.
The team is located close to her hometown of Castel Bolognese, and she was enticed by their goals and structure of the team. The roster is filled with younger players, and Peonia already had a relationship with the team’s libero.
“I previously played with one of my teammates, Ilaria Bonvicini, the libero,” she said. “We won a national title together in 2013. All the other players are, more or less, my age, so I am sure we will all get along.”
While volleyball is a little different both stylistically and rules-wise in Europe than America, Peonia is taking plenty of what she learned with the Blue Raiders to her new team.
When she arrived in Murfreesboro as a freshman, she had only played middle blocker. She was forced to play outside for MT and flourished into one of the program’s best players in recent memory. She was named to the Conference USA Second Team as a senior and finished her career ranked fourth in Blue Raiders history in kills (during the 25-point rally scoring era) and third in service aces.
“MTSU taught me how to play another position on the court,” she said. “MTSU moved me to the outside and taught me the missing pieces and fundamentals to be an outside. Also, during my senior year, I was chosen as a team captain, which shaped me into a better leader and teammate.
“European volleyball is slightly different, for example, the ball is different, a couple of rules are different and the tempo is different, but I am sure that Consolini Volley and the coach, Stefano Saja, will help me make the little changes as smoothly as possible.”
Peonia hasn’t been able to get on the court with her new team just yet, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s currently quarantining at her home until the team starts practice on Aug. 3, then their season is supposed to start in mid-September, should everything go well with current pandemic protocols.
Even though she hasn’t been able to get with her team just yet, her dream has still been fulfilled.
“I think that going back to Italy and close to my home was the perfect situation for me,” Peonia said. “After being far from home for so long, and this craziness with COVID-19, I needed some ‘home time.’
“I am very excited to come back to Italy … I honestly missed my culture and my authentic Italian food, but a piece of Murfreesboro will always be in my heart.”
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