Tokyo, Japan, August 21, 2007: While there can be no denying the impact Italian head coach Marco Bonitta has had on the Polish women’s team, the contribution of newcomer Eleonora Dziekiewicz must not be underestimated.
The 28-year-old middle blocker has been a revelation in the World Grand Prix, scoring 88 points in the preliminary round to help the Poles into the final six for the first time.
Her energy and aggression have added a new dimension to the Polish team, which has recovered its pride after a tumultuous 2006 culminating in a dismal 15th-place finish at the FIVB World Championship in Japan.
Captain Dorota Swieniewicz has this to say of the 1.85-metre Dziekiewicz, who plays for the Winiary Kalisz club: “I think she decided to come into the national team because Marco Bonitta is the coach.
“She has been with the national team for two months and has been training very hard. She gives 100 per cent every time.
“At difficult times during a match she is the first to try and lead the team to a higher level.”
High praise indeed from the captain, who has seen Dziekiewicz help transform the team from World Championship also-rans to Grand Prix challengers.
Not that head coach Bonitta is setting his sights too high for the final round in Ningbo, China, starting Wednesday.
Bonitta steered Italy to a bronze medal in the 2006 Grand Prix at Reggio Calabria before parting company with the Italian volleyball federation, but admits his new team is still learning.
“For us it will be very important to play against the best teams in the world,” Bonitta says. “We do not have any experience of playing in the final six of the Grand Prix, so this will be a good time to improve our experience.”
With mood-maker Dziekiewicz adding her spirit and talents to the team, the Poles’ secret weapon has quickly become a Grand Prix standout.