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Poland march on and Schulz serves it up to Japan

 
Osaka, Japan, June 9, 2018 - Poland's march towards the FIVB Volleyball Nations League finals continued unimpeded on Saturday with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-20) victory over Japan that saw surprise packet Damian Schulz lead the reigning world champions with 16 points.

The Poles went into the match with their tall timber to the fore and wing spiker Bartosz Bednorz rose to the occasion at the net, adding 16 points to the overall tally and never really giving his opponents much of a look in across the net. That Schulz was able to clock in four clear winners from his tricky serves showed once again just what a force the Poles are to be reckoned with in the VNL. The VNL is the 28-year-old's first international tour with Poland's national squad.

There hasn't been too much for the home fans to cheer for as Japan have so far lost both their matches in Osaka but the 18-year-old opposite Yuji Nishida was again the hero - as he no doubt will be for many years to come - and his 16 points at least had the local flags flying. 

The stars were never really aligned for the host nation, given they had not beaten Poland since the 2009 FIVB Grand Champions Cup, and Japan came into the match behind in the all-time head-to-head 6-24. Add to that Poland's form in the VNL, which has only seen them lose one match so far and the night before had seen them rally against a resilient Italy to win 3-2. Then there's the little matter of Poland being the reigning world champions. 

They played like that at times on on Saturday afternoon, too, never more so than in a first set that saw them dominate action at the net thanks to Schulz' superb power play. When Japan applied pressure in the second, Poland had Bednorz and Piotr Nowakowski looming large - they combined by the end for six of Poland's total of 11 blocks for the match.

Japan (3-5) round out their home run in Osaka on Sunday against Italy (5-3) while Poland (7-1) will look to make it a clean sweep of their three matches when they face Bulgaria (3-5).



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