- Polish volleyball players waited 12 years to take part in the World Cup again. This year’s tournament started with a victory over Croatia (3:1), which he paid for with a big dose of nerves.
- The absurdity of this year’s world championships is tied to the game system. Women must play nearly twice as many matches as men to win a medal
- Polish women played their first match on a … soccer field. Now they are back in the country for the rest of the struggle
To win a medal at the World Volleyball Championship, it was enough to play only seven matches. Only, because in the case of the women’s tournament, which is played in a different format, the road to the podium progresses through 12 matches and already in the group stage the schedule is very tight. After Friday’s game at the football stadium in Arnhem, in which the Polish national team beat Croatia 3-1, having recovered from a great deal of trouble, our team had a three-day break, but from Tuesday to Saturday they have to unite and play with the same method. Up to four more matches in the group stage, to fight for promotion to the second round.
They need time
– We are going in the right direction to show our best level. We have to constantly strengthen our offensive side, but we also have to play or stop. The second thing is to try to be as competitive as possible against other teams. Only this is not something that will happen overnight, but the whole process of gaining this experience by the players. We can’t expect much progress already in the first season, because it takes time to become a leader at the level of the best in the world – Polish coach Stefano Lavarini confirmed before the World Cup kicks off. We’ve been hearing for years that female staff takes time to build up and go to the right level. However, it is difficult to achieve any continuity, even if in the six years of former coach Jacek Naroki’s work the core of the team has changed almost every season, when it was established and future results in the form of, for example, promotion to the four European Championships in 2019 Then an epidemic followed, and some top players decided to take a break from the national team. And again it was necessary to rebuild.
Lavarini also cannot take advantage of the full potential of the Polish national team, because health plays tricks on the team this season. First, he had to play in the League of Nations without a nominal striker, and one of the attacking leaders, Malwena Smarzyk, did not return to the World Cup. In addition, this time the hosts – Martina Dukasek and Martina Chernyaska suffered injuries. And although the Polish women had two months to quietly prepare for the tournament before the World Cup, building a proper playing system takes longer. This was evident at their first meeting in Arnhem.
Polish women competed at the GelreDome football stadium, on whose territory three volleyball courts were erected, with the aim of playing matches there simultaneously. In the middle of Friday’s match between the Polish national team and the Croats from the nearby stadium, the sounds of music and fans prepared to meet the second team of the World Cup hosts – the Netherlands and Kenya. However, this was not the cause of the problem for the Polish women in the third group. The Croats started playing hard enough that they advanced in a 16:8 ratio and it looked like they were going to lead the game too in an instant. The game for Lavarini’s team was clearly undulating, but then the Italian coach arrived on the bench. There was a double change with Katarzyna Wenerska and Monika Gałkowska, as well as a change in the receiving center and the entry of Monika Fedusio. I was so focused on the match and on proving that I didn’t even notice the sounds coming from the court next door. After the match, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief, because we started the World Cup with a lot of tension. The bench entries showed that we need to have all players on board. I liked the way Magda Styciak and Olivia Rusanski worked in attack, and at one point I could run in the middle, when my opponents started to “give up” on the block – Polish women’s captain Joanna Vosz said in an interview with Polsat Sport. As for moderators, Agnieszka Korneluk and Kamila Witkowska did a lot of work with the block, scoring seven and four nets, respectively, in this element.
Others will not forgive
The ripples that happened to the Poles in the match against Croatia could not happen in a match with any other opponent. What the players of Ferhat Akpas forgave, a stronger opponent will not allow. Although winning with the Croats is a big step towards climbing to the second round of the World Cup, the match marathon is now ahead of the Polish national team. On Tuesday, they will play against the Tajiks, who defeated the Turkish team 3-2, ie the contenders for victory in the second group, but also for the medal. A day later, a meeting with the Koreans – the last team in this year’s League of Nations, which is theoretically considered the weakest team in the group. And on Thursday, a match with the Dominican Republic, and two days later in the Ergo Arena, Focus in last year’s European Championship easily beat the Polish women in the quarter-finals of the European Championship. By defeating the Koreans, Piao Zeroni should already score among the top four teams in the group, which will be promoted to the second round at ód. “I hope that overcoming the difficult situation in the third set of the match against Croatia will give us a valuable lesson for the future,” confirms coach Lavarini.
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