Final Six: Poland on last leg towards volleyball success

The Polish National Volleyball Team PAP/Jakub Kamiński

The Polish National Volleyball Team will join five other countries competing in the Final Six next month – the last leg of the Nations League international tournament.  

“Our volleyball players, by qualifying to the Final Six, have done something we’ve all been quietly expecting from them. We didn’t impose any goals or requirements, because you may have noticed we played each game with a different squad. You could say, that coach Heynen is doing an inspection of his troops”, said Jacek Kasprzyk, the Polish Volleyball Federation’s President of the Board.

Poland faced Australia on June 22nd in their final game of the intercontinental phase. Winning only two sets would ensure advancing further, however the Polish team ended the match with a steady 3-0.

“In the final games you could mainly see, that everyone is tired. This schedule we had, was one big misunderstanding. One team played all their games on one continent, others changed them every week. No one thought about the people,” observed Waldemar Wspaniały, a decorated volleyball player and the former coach of the Polish team. 

16 teams participated in the intercontinental phase of the tournament. For some, like the Poles, the challenge was not only to defeat their opponents, but to endure the exhausting regime of training and flying between time zones. Over three weeks, they travelled to Japan, Australia and the United States.

The Final Six competition will be held between July 4th-7th at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France. The Polish team will face USA and Russia in pool A, while pool B will include France Serbia and Brazil. At this point in the tournament, there are no weak teams and Poland has a difficult battle ahead of them. 

Still, the Nations League is not the main event in the volleyball world this year. With the Men’s World Championship in Italy and Bulgaria coming closer, the coaches need to conserve the energy of the players and focus on finding the optimal squads for September.

The Polish team are the defending world champions, after winning the competition Poland hosted in 2014. Many experienced players from that celebrated team, such as Mariusz Wlazły, Michał Winiarski and Paweł Zagumny retired, feeling that with such success they had a fitting reason to leave the court. 

Since then, the Polish volleyball team, while still high in the charts, has been working on gaining experience and rebuilding the squad. In this context, the Final Six tournament is not just a prelude to the World Championship, but a final test for the players too.