Poland look to bounce back in time for Group 2 Finals
Poland will play Belgium’s “Yellow Tigers” in the first match scheduled at 17.30 local time on Friday, before the Netherlands and Puerto Rico cross paths in the second semifinal at 20.15.
After a good start - which included a three sets victory against Belgium in Lima, Peru - Poland showed a lack of consistency to settle for fourth place in the Group 2 standings at the end of the Intercontinental Round. The home side hope that the city of Koszalin will once again be the place of their redemption, as it was in this year’s European League when Poland recorded two home victories at Hala Sportowo – Widowiskowa to cement their third place in the final standings of that competition.
“I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Poland’s coach Piotr Makowski said. “I know that we can play better than we have lately, but I also realise that we have very little time to improve. We have played a lot of matches since the beginning of the season, but this is actually what I wanted for this group. We have been traveling very extensively and did not have much time to practice. The injury of our starting setter Joanna Wolosz also thwarted our plans, since she was to play a key role in our game. Izabela Belcik has stepped in for Joanna, but has only been practising with us for four weeks.”
At 33 years of age, Belcik is the most experienced player in the group and is also a member of the “golden generation” which won two consecutive European Championships in 2003 and 2005. “We still would need more time to practice,” she said. “We have been making too many serving errors and our block has also not been good enough lately. I do hope that we will play much better in this Final Four than we did in the last preliminary rounds. We still have another couple of days left to improve and we want to use this time as efficiently as possible.”
The Final Four in Koszalin is not only a major event for the city located 12kms south of the Baltic Sea; it is also an opportunity for the eventual winners to qualify for the World Grand Prix Final Six scheduled for August 20-24 in Tokyo, Japan. Middle-blocker Katarzyna Polec agreed with the analysis made by her mentor and captain: “If you have a look at our first matches in this competition, it is true that we have not performed as well lately. But maybe it is good that this happened right before the Final Four. I am confident that by the time we play our matches here in Koszalin we will have solved all our problems.”