Hosts Italy have qualified for every World Championship since 1978 and won the gold medal at the 2002 edition in Germany. They defeated the United States in five sets in the final, after surviving a scare in the second group stage when they lost two of their three matches. Four years later they made the semifinal but were beaten in straight sets by Russia, and suffered the same fate against Serbia and Montenegro in the bronze medal match. In 2010, Italy took fifth place after a straight sets win against Turkey in their classification match.
Italy won the World Cup in 2007 and 2011 and the Grand Champions Cup in 2009. In addition, they have consistently performed well at the World Grand Prix in the past ten years, winning silver medals in 2004 and 2005 and bronze in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. However, the last three seasons have not been as profitable for the Azzurre, finishing seventh and 10th in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Last year they improved to finish fifth.
The home crowd's expectations will have been dampened slightly following Italy's disappointing ninth place finish in Group 1 of the 2014 World Grand Prix where they won five of the nine group stage matches.