World Olympic Qualification Tournament
Porto, Portugal

Poland Down Hosts in Five-Set Thriller

Porto, Portugal, May 22, 2004 - Poland moved to within touching distance of the Olympic Games on Saturday when they downed hosts Portugal in a five set thriller for their second win of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Porto.
Pic: Gruszka (POL) hits against the Portuguese block

The 25-18, 18-25, 27-29, 25-19, 15-12 victory leaves Poland as the only unbeaten side in the competition and a win on Sunday against Kazakhstan, who have lost both their games without claiming a set, will guarantee them a spot in Athens.

Portugal must beat Venezuela in their final game and hope Poland lose to Kazakhstan to stand any chance of reaching their first Olympics.

Earlier, Venezuela defeated a much-improved Kazakhstan 25-23, 25-21, 25-21 to give themselves an outside chance of reaching Athens.

“It was a game full of emotion,” said Poland coach Stanislaw Gosciniak. “I suspected this would be the case so I told my players to be ready for it and be prepared to fight to the end.

“I counted on their experience at the end and they showed it in the fifth set, especially when we were 5-8 down. They played very well.”

Portugal, who defeated the Poles in the last World Championships, had their chances of claiming a famous victory and securing their first ever spot in an Olympic Games.

But a number of errors in the tiebreak, in which Poland’s Piotr Gruszka was outstanding, allowed the Poles back into the match.

“We gave everything we had, but some mistakes in the fifth set cost us dear,” said Portugal’s Brazilian coach Juan Diaz.

Poland, Volleyball gold medallists at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, face Kazakhstan in the opening match on Sunday, followed by Venezuela versus Portugal.

Tournament Page