Two-time defending champions Poland came back from a first-set defeat to beat the United States 3-1, maintaining their perfect campaign at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship and securing the top spot in Pool C in front of over 10,000 home fans in Katowice on Tuesday.
Poland at the top after comeback win over the United States
The defending champions overcome a first-set loss to complete pool play with a perfect record
Published 09:07, 30 Aug 2022
The Americans were better than the hosts in key moments of the opening set, but couldn’t hold the reigning world champions any longer as Poland managed to remain undefeated after three pool play matches with a four-set (23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-21) triumph. Both teams are guaranteed a place in the Round of 16 as the two top sides in the pool.
Poland were the first team to take three points in all of their three pool play matches and can only be equalled by Italy and Serbia, who will both play their last pool matches on Wednesday.
With the result, the Poles also got revenge for their defeat to the Americans in the semifinals of the 2022 Volleyball Nations League in July. On that occasion, the United States won in straight sets and prevented the Europeans from making it to their second-straight VNL final.
Polish captain Bartosz Kurek led his team’s offence with 20 points. The 34-year-old opposite, who was the Most Valuable Player in the team’s victory at the 2018 World Championship, tallied 17 kills, one block and two aces to be a key piece in the team’s comeback that sent their fans back home smiling after a massive celebration at the Spodek Arena.
“We need to thank our fans for the atmosphere they created for our first three matches, it’s unforgettable,” Kurek commented. “It doesn’t matter if we’re up or down, they always create this incredible atmosphere and it gives me chills every time we get to play at home. We beat one of the best teams in the world, but I’m sure they will go far in this tournament and I hope we can test ourselves again against this great team. Our next matches are going to be amazing and it should be a lot of fun for the fans watching.”
American head coach John Speraw had a noticeable absence to deal with in the match as star setter Micah Christenson didn’t enter the court and was replaced by Josh Tuaniga. Outside hitters Torey Defalco and Aaron Russell carried the team’s offensive load with 16 (14 kills, one block, one ace) and 14 points (12 kills, one block, one ace), respectively.
In the other match of the pool, Mexico secured their first win in the tournament by ending on the right side of a five-set (20-25, 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 18-16) battle with Bulgaria. Mexican opposite Diego Gonzalez was in stellar form with 33 points (26 kills, three blocks, four aces), while Bulgarian opposite Tsvetan Sokolov (24) and outside hitter Aleksandar Nikolov (21) combined to score 45.
Despite the impressive result, the Mexicans won’t make it to the Round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams as they amassed just two points in their three pool matches. The Bulgarians, who ended their participation with a single point, are also eliminated.
Pool play continues on Wednesday with six matches that will complete the schedules of Pools A, E and F. After all teams that will take part in the Round of 16 are qualified, the eight matchups that will be played from September 3-6 will be determined.