Okayama, Japan, August 15, 2010 – Poland recovered from their first loss of the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix on Saturday against Japan as they scored a 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 29-31, 25-20) win over Germany in a dramatic match in Okayama, Japan in their final game of the weekend.
The win means Poland return to the top of the table as Germany sit in seventh.
Anna Baranksa was the top scorer for Poland with 18 points, while Margareta Kozuch topped the Germans with 16.
Poland started the match with two errors, but Germany also began lacklustre as the Poles found themselves on a roll, stretching out a 6-2 lead and forcing Germany's Italian coach Giovanni Guidetti to call an early timeout. The Germans had trouble with their reception early on and also planted a couple of serves into the net. But they settled down and a fantastic block by Corina Ssuschke on Joanna Kaczor drew them level at 9-9. They were level again at 13-all, but again the Poles seemed to have a slight edge and crept ahead with some good attacking work by Karolina Kosek. Two German errors saw the gap widen to four points at 20-16 and it looked all over, but the scores were level at 21 and again at 23. A spike by Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata brought up setpoint and the Poles blocked the big-hitting Margareta Kozuch to seal the set.
Polish coach Jerzy Matlak called a timeout at 0-6 in the second set after his team went off the rails. The Poles struggled to get into the game and Germany were eight points ahead at the second technical timeout. The introduction of Katarzyna Zarolinska brought a bit of life to the Polish team and Guidetti's decision to replace main setter Kathleen Weiss with Denise Hanke seemed to upset the Germans' rhythm. What seemed like an unassailable lead at 22-14 disappeared as the Poles rediscovered their game and the Germans struggled to score. Three terrific blocks brought the Poles level at 23-23. But Heike Beier failed to deal with a serve by Katarzyna Gajgal and a tipover by Berenika Okuniewska put the Poles 2-0 up.
Normality returned at the start of the third set. Anna Baranska kept the Poles focused with three good spikes and they were marginally ahead at the first TTO. But it was a close contest with the scores neck-and-neck from 9-9 through 14-14. Baranska was leading the Polish attack, but it was a spiking error by Kozuch that gave Poland a two-point lead at the second TTO. Two long Polish spikes closed the gap to 19-19 and it was close from that point on. The Poles saved four setpoints before they had two of their own. At 29-29, Anne Matthes thumped a huge spike through the Polish defense for another German setpoint. Maren Brinker served for the set and the Polish reception came straight back to Corina Ssuschke who thumped the ball back past the Poles, wrapping things up at 31-29.
Good blocking by Gajgal helped the Poles stay with Germany early in the fourth set and it was all-square at 7-7. Then the Poles found their groove and moved into a 15-8 lead before they stuttered and allowed Germany to creep back into the set. But the Germans could get no closer than three points and Baranska ended the match with a spike that ricocheted off a German defender and out of play.
Next week Germany travel to Hong Kong to face USA, China and Thailand while Poland move onto Chinese Taipei to face the host side, Brazil and Puerto Rico with both sides still in search of a final round berth.