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FIVB Men’s Volleyball Club World Championship
Doha, Qatar
3-8 November 2009

 Press Release
Polish champion PGE Skra Belchatow is prepared for battle

PGE Skra Belchatow spiker Mariusz Wlazly unleashes a cannon
Belchatow, Poland, September 22, 2009 - Polish champion PGE Skra Belchatow is ready for the new challenges of the upcoming 2009/2010 season, which includes a breathtaking chance to be crowned victors of the FIVB Men’s Club World Volleyball Championship in Doha, Qatar this November.

“We appreciate the wild card we have received to join this tournament (from the FIVB),” said PGE Skra President Konrad Piechocki. “We want to prove we deserved it. We believe we can make a serious challenge in this prestigious tournament.”

The presence of five members from the Polish national side that won the European Championship in Izmir, Turkey this year (middle blockers Daniel Plinski and Marcin Mozdzonek; libero Piotr Gacek; wingers Michal Bakiewicz and Bartosz Kurek) and silver medalist Stephane Antiga from France will help PGE Skra.

Last season PGE Skra showed great potential not only in the national league, where the Belchatowian team won the Polish Championship and the Polish Cup, but also in the European Champions' League. PGE Skra beat Russian Champion Dynamo Moscow in the last 16 before being eliminated in the quarterfinals by another Russian team, Iskra Odintsovo.

PGE Skra became the first club in the history of the Polish Volleyball League to win the title five years in a row. The team’s Polish Cup victory was also its fourth.

“It was very successful season,” said Piechocki. “Having won the double crown in Poland again, we gained a lot of confidence.

“Now our plan is to defend both titles, however, we expect it will be very difficult. Our rivals in Poland have made their lineups even stronger and the league will be extremely equal. We also want to advance at least to The Final Four of the European Champions' League and fight for the title in Doha,” Piechocki added.

During its five trips to the European Champions' League, PGE Skra had always passed the group phase and finished third in 2007.

“Our presence in Europe and in world competitions such as the Club World Volleyball Championship is of great importance for the club and for Polish Volleyball,” Piechocki said. “We want to show that Polish Volleyball has been making great progress in the last eight years. We are aware that we will represent our country in this very exceptional tournament.”

PGE Skra made a couple of changes to the team in the summer. Young opposite Jakub Jarosz (who was also involved in the Polish triumph at the European Championship) has left for ZAKSA Kedzierzyn Kozle and was replaced by Czech Jakub Novotny.

But the most important transfer was the signing of Michal Winiarski, who returned to PGE Skra after three years in Trento. Winiarski was one of the key players of Itas Diatec, which won the European Champions' League, and Polish national team, which finished second at the 2006 FIVB World Championships in Japan.

The only real worry for the club is the injury bug, as Winiarski, Novotny and Wlazly are doubtful for the event in Doha.

“We will have to cope with many problems. Our rivals in Poland are stronger and stronger. Everybody expects success from us in every area. But we have the capacity to fight on equal terms against every team in all the competitions,” said new PGE Skra coach Jacek Nawrocki.

“The tournament in Doha will be extremely difficult. Only after the European Championship could we start regular training, on September 21. Before going to Qatar we will play only four matches, all versus very strong opponents. We will not have time to focus on the Golden Rule, which is another serious difficulty, but we will fight for every point in Doha,” Nawrocki added.

Nawrocki is former PGE Skra playmaker. For the last six seasons he had been assistant to Ireneusz Mazur (a former Polish national team and PGE Skra coach) and Daniel Castellani, who led Skra the last three years. The PGE Skra bosses agreed to let Castellani quit his contract to take up the helm of the Polish national team, allowing Nawrocki to take over at the club.

Players in:

Michal Winiarski (POL, winger, Itas Diatec Trentino - Italy)

Jakub Novotny (CZE, opposite, ZAKSA Kedzirzyn Kozle - Poland)

Players out:

Jakub Jarosz (POL, opposite, ZAKSA Kedzirzyn Kozle - Poland)

Dawid Murek (POL, winger, AZS Czestochowa)

Pawel Maciejewicz (POL, winger, AZS Politechnika Warszawa)

Janne Heikkinen (FIN, looking for new club)


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