Filip Grądek, fot. Piotr Sumara, 23 July 2019
#EuroVolleyW Pool B hosts Poland have enjoyed a great first half of this national team season, having won the prestigious Montreux Volley Masters back in May and reaching the Volleyball Nations League Final Six in early July. Jacek Nawrocki’s team have already begun preparing for the second half of the season. Last weekend in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski they played a friendly tournament against Czech Republic and Belarus – who will start their EuroVolley journey in Pool D in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Poland faced Czech Republic on day one of the competition. The hosts’ main offensive force, Malwina Smarzek-Godek did not take part due to a minor injury. The match was, however, a comeback for Katarzyna Zaroślińska-Król, who assumed duties on the attack. The White-and-Reds had a slow and rather unimpressive start, but as the set and match progressed, commitment in defence and good serving helped them assert dominance on court and win 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-11). The hosts also won 25-22 in the additional set, which both teams had agreed to play, should the game not go the distance.
As Poland rested on day two, the visiting teams played their sparring game. Both coaches agreed to play four sets for training purposes, regardless of the score. Czech Republic vs. Belarus thus ended with a result rarely seen in Volleyball – a 2-2 draw (25-22, 25-22, 20-25, 19-25) after a well-balanced match.
The Sunday game between Poland and Belarus was a chance for coach Nawrocki to test the players who rested during the match against Czech Republic (e.g. Natalia Mędrzyk, Kamila Witkowska, Paulina Maj-Erwardt), with the exception of Malwina Smarzek-Godek. Before the ball started flying though, a number of ceremonies took place, as the whole tournament was in fact a part of the celebrations for the 90th anniversary of the local club AZS KSZO. The visitors had their own special moment as Volha Pauliukouskaya was awarded for her 150th match with the national team of Belarus. The libero is very well-known to the local fans, since she played with KSZO and has lived there for the past few years.
Belarus proved to be a tough opponent while the hosts struggled to find their rhythm in set one and had problems with reception in set three. After a nervous finish of set four, the match went into a tiebreaker, in which Poland’s experience from the recent international tournaments proved to be invaluable, as they managed to stay cool and win 3-2 (21-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 15-12).
“Both Czech Republic and Belarus are good teams and we expected a fight. Belarus set forth hard conditions in this match,” said Poland’s Marlena Kowalewska (Pleśnierowicz). “We still have a few more matches to play and two weeks of hard work before the Olympic qualifier in Wroclaw. We will be focussing on honing our form from match to match and on improving the team play,” she concluded.
On Tuesday, Poland are travelling to Kaliningrad for another friendly tournament – the Governor’s Cup (July 24-26), where they will face another three #EuroVolleyW competitors: Germany, Belgium and hosts Russia.
For further information about CEV EuroVolley 2019 Women, visit the official event website http://eurovolley.cev.eu.
© Polish Volleyball Federation, 2017