After winning against the Polish champions, the Aluron CMC Warty Zawiercie team defeated the country’s runners-up (3:1) in the PlusLiga on Wednesday evening. Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle lost to Zawiercie in four sets and buried itself in the middle of the table.
Before the match, it was known that the hosts would have to cope without Jakub Szymański (back pain) and Andreas Takvam, who was also not feeling well. Adding to this the long-term injury of Aleksander Śliwka and Wojciech Żaliński, it was known that the challenge facing the Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle volleyball players was difficult.
Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie with a successful opening
The fast-paced team of coach Michał Winiarski arrived at the territory of the Polish runners-up. The fourth team of the previous season in PlusLiga, with a certain place in the final tournament of the Tauron Polish Cup, recently defeated, among others, Jastrzębski Węgiel (3:1) on home soil. Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie lost Trevor Clevenot in the clash with the Polish champions, but the Frenchman was brilliantly replaced by Patryk Łaba.
The Frenchman appeared in Kędzierzyn-Koźle, but “Łabski” remained in the starting lineup. Winiarski had more room for maneuver, being able to count primarily on his leaders, such as Karol Butryn, Mateusz Bieniek and Bartosz Kwolek. On the other hand, ZAKSA had Łukasz Kaczmarek, Marcin Janusz, Erik Shoji and Bartosz Bednorz in the starting line-up.
The last one mentioned disappointed at the end of the first game. From 18:18 to 18:21, to the detriment of the hosts, “Benji” attacked out of bounds and was effectively blocked. Miłosz Zniszczoł also deserves a mention – the visitors’ center in the first set blocked his opponents with four points. Aluron CMC won 25:20.
ZAKSA extended its hopes for success in the PlusLiga hit
The second game ended with an even more impressive victory for the visitors. Although it started with 3:0 or 6:2 for ZAKSA, a few minutes later it was 15:13, 17:14 or 22:16 for coach Winiarski’s team. They couldn’t reach their level, among others. Kaczmarek or Daniel Chitigoi returning to the starting lineup.
During the break between sets, with the score at 0:2, Bednorz sought the help of a physiotherapist (abdominal muscle problems), clearly struggling to improve the efficiency of his game for the team. The hosts started the third game better again. After Kaczmarek’s service ace, the score was 12:8. A moment later, Winiarski’s team responded again, two aces by Butryn and ZAKSA’s lead was minimal (12:11).
Ultimately, Chitigoi, Kaczmarek and Bednorz improved their play, thanks to which the hosts won 25:21.
Polish runners-up absent from the game for the Tauron Polish Cup?
However, the visitors from Zawiercie did not intend to give up on the three-time Champions League winners. Aluron CMC improved its effectiveness, on the other side Kaczmarek, who was holding ZAKSA’s offensive, was giving the Zawiercie team a hard time.
The team from Kędzierzyn-Koźle played evenly, but did not manage to change the fate of the duel. The hosts’ will to fight cannot be denied, they first came closer to their escaping rivals at 19:20 at the end, after Chitigoia’s service ace. Coach Winiarski had to ask for time. A moment later it was 20:20 because the Elbe River was blocked. However, the inhabitants of Zawiercie responded, among others: a block on Kaczmarek (22:20) and an ace by Butryn (23:20) on Korneliusz Banach, who had to play the libero role as a receiver. The match ended with an attack by Bednorz (25:20).
Miguel Tavares, the visiting quarterback, was chosen MVP of the match.
It is worth devoting a few words to the arbitrators’ decisions. It seems that several of them were at least controversial (including Shoji’s bounced ball and potential dirty bounces). It’s a pity that they took place in an even match, because they caused a lot of controversy and indiscriminate comments in the stands. Did they decide the result? Not necessarily, but in a hit match, it’s worth avoiding them.
ZAKSA, by losing for a full pot, limited its chances of advancing to the final tournament of the Tauron Polish Cup to a minimum. It looks like the Polish runners-up will not defend the trophy they won in 2023.
They can have a lot of reasons to be happy in Zawiercie. Aluron CMC will have both the champions and runners-up of Poland from the previous PlusLiga season on their schedule within a few days. And such achievements are very valuable.