Good work lads! Men’s volleyball team WINS the VNL tournament for first time
Poland’s men’s volleyball team is celebrating gold after turning in the performance of their lives to beat the USA last night in the VNL tournament.
Roared on by 11,000 fans inside Gdańsk’s Ergo Arena, Poland clinched their first ever VNL title after defeating the US side 25-23, 24-26, 25-18 and 25-18 in front of a jubilant sellout crowd.
Having finished fifth in the inaugural edition in 2018, Poland have occupied a podium place in all of the subsequent tournaments, taking silver in 2021 and bronze in 2019 and 2022 – only the US have won more medals.
However, until yesterday the big prize had always eluded Poland.
Finally breaking their duck on Sunday, much praise has been heaped on Łukasz Kaczmarek who stepped in to fill the void left by injured captain, Bartosz Kurek.
Putting in a man of the match performance, Kaczmarek, who had appeared only fleetingly throughout the tournament, finished as the game’s top scorer with 25 points.
Speaking afterwards, the 29-year-old said: “It’s really amazing to win such an important title at home, with this atmosphere and in front of these fans – we dedicate the victory to them because they’re the best.
Continuing, he added: “I didn’t expect to play so well and it’s really amazing for my career. Unfortunately, Kurek had this injury and couldn’t play, but I’m happy that I could help the team and enjoy this moment. We prepared well for the Finals after a long season and now we’re in amazing shape.”
High on confidence after obliterating world champions Italy in the semi-final, the US side had entered the final as hot favourites. Poland, though, rose to the occasion with players such as Aleksander Śliwka and Tomasz Fornal also playing pivotal roles.
Outgunning the Americans with 59 kills against 51, and seven aces against three, the home side brushed aside their opponents to record an epic triumph that will long be remembered.
In the weekend’s other game, Japan achieved their best ever finish after upsetting the odds to beat Italy in a dramatic five set thriller.
With the dust now settling on the tournament, Poland’s dominance has been reflected by the selection of four players to the VNL 2023 Dream Team.
Of these, Pawel Zatorski was named the MVP with the 33-year-old veteran becoming the first ever libero to be honoured this way in the history of the competition.
Poland will now be looking to repeat their success at the European Championship in August.