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2009 FIVB Men's Grand Champions Cup
Osaka - Nagoya, Japan
18 - 23 November 2009

 Press Release
Poland capture first continental crown

Poland celebrate their first continental championship
Izmir, Turkey, September 13, 2009 — Twenty-six years after claiming a silver medal in East Berlin, Poland clinched their first-ever gold at the 2009 CEV Men’s European Championships in Izmir.

The East Europeans overpowered France 3-1 (29-27, 25-21, 16-25, 26-24) in the final, while Bulgaria outclassed 2005 and 2007 runner-up Russia in straight sets (25-18, 26-24, 25-21) to capture the bronze.

With the victory, Poland qualified for the 2009 FIVB Men's Grand Champion Cup in Japan from November 18-23.

In the presence of CEV President Mr. André Meyer, the President of the Turkish Volleyball Federation Mr. Erol Ünal Karabiyik and several other international and national dignitaries, France made a blistering start to the gold-medal match as their pace was too much for Poland in the early stages.

The Polish machine started out slowly, but there was no stopping a gentle ace from Romain Vadeleux that sailed through the Polish court to make the score 10-7. Poland’s coach Daniel Castellani asked for a break to give his team some tactical hints. On the restart, Poland fought back quickly, with tournament MVP Piotr Gruszka spiking with dominance on the right.

At the second technical timeout, the Poles drew closer, 15-16. Some moments later, French head coach Philippe Blain brought in Edouard Rowlandson for Guillaume Samica, but Daniel Plinski still managed to serve two aces in a row to move Poland ahead, 22-19.

France fought back bravely to level the score at 22-22, and again at 26-26 and 27-27. But the Poles kept the upper hand with Bartosz Kurek flying high from the back row to wrap up the set 29-27.

France jumped out to an early 12-9 lead in the second set with Stéphane Antiga and Samica firing missiles through the Polish block, but Poland bounced back to level at 12-12. Michal Bakiewicz took the East Europeans into the second technical timeout with a two-point lead, 16-14, and at 14-18, Blain called a timeout to restructure his team’s offensive and defensive patterns.

But the French completely lost their rhythm, especially in reception, and the Poles moved forward to 21-15. Antiga countered a first Polish set ball at 19-24 with a clever block out shot, but two rallies later Gruska finished it on the right, 25-21 to Poland.

The French started to find their momentum again in the third frame, and when Vadeleux served another winner for 8-4, the Poles needed a technical break to regain control. Some brilliant French defensive plays caused Poland to overreact and fire wildly into the French block. With errors on serve reception and attack, Poland trailed 7-16 at the second technical timeout.

The set was now over as a contest for the Poles, and France moved on quickly to 20-11. Michal Ruciak gave “les bleus” a first set ball with a poor serve at 16-24, and Kurek sent one wide one rally later to hand France the third set.

With Poland’s Gruszka (16 points) and France’s Rouzier (18) and Samica (16) on fire, both teams exchanged some exciting combinations in the beginning of the fourth set. Poland moved ahead to 8-5 by the first technical timeout but the French stayed focused to level the score again at 12-12.

French captain Olivier Kieffer hammered one through the middle, and his opponent Marcin Mozdzonek did the same a rally later to knot things up at 17-17. The Poles put a lot of pressure on the French attackers, and when Samica sent it wide, Poland regained command at 19-17. At 20-21, Rouzier took too much risk from the back row, but two rallies later, he compensated for it with a scorching winner to level at 22.

Plinski brought a match point through the middle, but Rouzier saved one on the right. Gruszka fired another missile to give Poland a second match point at 25-24, and closed it out one rally later.

Best players

Best Scorer: Antonin Rouzier (FRA)
Best Setter: Pawel Zagumny (POL)
Best Spiker: Alexander Volkov (RUS)
Best Server: Yury Berezhko (RUS)
Best Blocker: Viktor Yosifov (BUL)
Best Receiver: Stéphane Antiga (FRA)
Best Libero: Hubert Henno (FRA)
Most Valuable Player: Piotr Gruszka (POL)

Results Sunday

Gold medal match: Poland vs. France 3-1 (29-27, 25-21, 16-25, 26-24)
Bronze medal match: Bulgaria vs. Russia 3-0 (25-18, 26-24, 25-21).

Final Ranking

1. Poland (gold medal)*
2. France (silver medal)*
3. Bulgaria (bronze medal)*

4. Russia*
5. Serbia*
6. Germany
7. The Netherlands
8. Greece
9. Spain
10. Italy
11. Slovakia
12. Finland
13. Turkey
14. Estonia
15. Slovenia
16. Czech Republic

* Qualified for the 2011 CEV Men’s European Championships in Austria/Czech Republic


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