Pycia (left) of Poland against Kim Sa-Nee (KOR)
Tokyo, November 1, 2006: World No. 9 Poland beat No. 8 Korea 3-2 in a Pool A match every bit as close as their world rankings suggested it would be.
The Poles won 25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 23-25, 15-12 to improve their win-loss record to 2-0. Korea slipped to 1-1.
Poland took advantage of a scrappy start by Korea and led 8-5 at the first TTO. The Koreans made too many errors on attack and serve, and the Polish block clicked quickly into gear.
Trailing 10-5, Korea head coach Kim Myeong-Soo replaced Han Song-Yi with Kim Yeon-Koung in a bid to spark the attack, but the Poles pulled away to 14-6 before Bae Yoo-Na found her range on Korea's left flank.
A trademark winner on the left from the athletic Kamila Fratczak carried Poland to the second TTO with a seven-point lead, 16-9, and Maria Liktoras highlighted Poland's dominance at the net as the set progressed.
Poland needed a TO when Kim Yeon-Koung smashed her way through their defensive wall, even though the Koreans still trailed 22-16.
Captain Joanna Mirek moved her team closer to the target, and a Fratczak block brought up set point at 24-19 before the Poles closed it out 25-21 at their third attempt.
The Korean errors continued in the second set, whereas the fired-up Poles were able to vary their attack, notably when Milena Rosner scored with a gentle lob into space from her position on the left.
An overhead set from Izabela Belcik presented a point on a plate for Sylwia Pycia, but the Koreans tightened up their defence and kept Poland within range.
Southpaw spiker Hwang Youn-Joo is always a threat with her cross-court fireballs from the right flank, and she helped Korea reach the second TTO with a one-point advantage, 16-15.
Mirek produced some crucial points down the stretch as the lead changed hands on a regular basis, and Korea answered with a spectacular block by Kim Yeon-Koung on Fratczak.
When Liktoras spiked long, Korea had set point at 24-23, and Han Yoo-Mi forced it over for 25-23 and 1-1.
The third set began where the second set had left off, and neither team was able to gain a significant lead. Rosner, rising high and spiking cleanly, was now Poland's main source of points, and Han Yoo-Mi on Korea's left was emerging as a danger to the Polish block.
The set continued at a furious pace, with long rallies entertaining the neutral fans. The 1.93-metre Anna Podolec presented fresh problems for Korea, both in attack and block, but the left-handed wing spiker Hwang and the in-form Han Yoo-Mi continued to nudge Korea forward.
Liktoras brought up set point at 24-21 with a run-around, cross-court smash into space, but Korea saved all three points, only for Liktoras to repeat the move. There was no mistake on the fourth set point with a block on Han Yoo-Mi, 26-24 and 2-1 Poland.
Play was held up early in the fourth set after Korea's leading scorer, Kim Yeon-Koung, felt the full force of a Podolec piledriver in her right eye.
Korea needed a TO as the confident Poles began to get on top at 12-10, and setter Belcik pierced the Korean defence with a quickfire winner at the net.
Leading 16-13 at the second TTO, Poland could not pull away as Kim's vision returned. Korea clinched it 25-23 on their first set point with a two-player block.
The blocking of both teams was outstanding in the tie-breaker, and the attackers had to work hard to produce a clean spike. Rosner carried Poland to the turnaround 8-6 ahead, and Mirek maintained the pace.
Poland led 11-7, but Korea came back again to trail by one, 11-10. Podolec moved Poland to 13-10 with a crashing winner on the right, and the same player brought up match point at 14-11. Sylwia Pycia finished a pulsating contest at the net, 15-12.