The Polish national team started fighting for the Olympic Games. In Xi’an, China, the first rival were the Belgians, whom the White and Reds faced during the last European Championships. The beginning of the Olympic tournament ended with a victory, although it came in great agony.
Poles went to China in a fighting mood. After winning the Nations League and the European Championship, they could feel confident, although, as Nikola Grbic emphasized, those achievements are already in the past. The first rivals in Xi’an were the well-known Belgians. The White and Reds won the match 3:2 (23:25, 25:20, 25:16, 21:25, 17:15), but at the beginning they received a huge bucket of cold water.
Unexpected problems for Polish volleyball players
The match started with the assumed advantage of the Poles. After a while, however, the Belgians woke up, causing a lot of problems for the White and Reds. They played very well in defense, which allowed them to first make up for the losses and then even take a temporary lead. From around the middle of the set, the point-for-point fight dominated, which certainly could have surprised not only the fans, but also the entire team. When Emmanuele Zanini’s team took the lead 19:17, Grbic reacted with a time-out. The Poles were close to equalizing the score, but their rivals did not give up. Thanks to the service ace, they took the lead 24:21. Semeniuk responded with a strong serve, but ultimately thanks to Sam Deroo’s attack, Belgium won the first set 25:23.
The second set started more favorably for the Belgians. The Poles were not good at serving, and their rivals still looked good in defense. Over time, however, the White and Reds returned to their form from the beginning of the match. They recorded a series of several points, which allowed them to take a large lead. Łukasz Kaczmarek did well, and the Belgians lost their effectiveness. The Poles entered the 20th point with a loss of three points. Ultimately, they won 25:20 after a confident finish.
The Belgians are one step away from victory
The third game also started under the control of the White and Reds. When the score was 4:2 for the Poles, there was a long break. The Belgians were checking the transition of the halfway line, which was very long. The competition was resumed only after a few minutes because Zanini’s team protested strongly. With time, the score was even for a moment, but from the middle of the set it was Poland that dominated their rivals. Nikola Grbic’s volleyball players kept coming up with counterattacks that ended in points. With the score 18:10, the European champions could play until the end of the set with great peace of mind. They won the third game 25:16, taking the lead.
The fourth set was initially even. The Belgians played with a knife at their throat. Their serve often landed in the net or off the line. Despite this, the Poles were unable to gain a solid lead for a long time. This came only in the second half of the set. The European champions lost by two points, forcing the opponents’ coach to take a time-out. The break was good for them as the Belgians caught up with the Poles and later took the lead thanks to Rotty’s ace. It was then that Grbic decided to intervene, which paid off after a while. The fate of the set was decided by a tight ending. The Belgians withstood it better, and they surprisingly beat the Poles. From a score of 15:17, they won 25:21.
Tie-break was initially a knife competition. Deroo showed great performance and helped his team a lot. The Belgians took the lead, putting even more pressure on Grbic’s team. The Belgians were changing sides with a two-point lead, which did not bode well. Talented attacker Reggers performed well. On the other side of the net, Poles could count on Kaczmarek. It was he who led to a 9-9 draw and provoked Zanini to take a timeout. Still, neither team could take control of the tie-break. Rivals from Western Europe were still one step ahead of Poland. However, the White and Reds were helped by the ineffectiveness of their rivals in the service field. The opponents made nearly 30 mistakes during the entire match. They also remained ineffective in crucial moments. At 13:12, Grbic reacted with a break. He looked very nervous, but remained calm during the speech. A power play was needed to decide the match. The Poles did better, winning 17:15.
Poland will play against Bulgaria
The most effective Polish volleyball player in the match was Łukasz Kaczmarek (24 points). The next match will be played by the White and Reds on Sunday, October 1 at 10:00 a.m. Polish time. The rival of Nikola Grbic’s team will be Bulgaria.