Poland stayed on track in their campaign to claim their third consecutive FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship title. In a thrilling semifinal clash with Brazil in Katowice on Saturday, the defending champs claimed a 3-2 (23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 21-25, 15-12) victory over Brazil to book the first ticket to Sunday’s gold medal match.
Poland on to another World Championship final!
The home team finish on the happy end of a five-set semifinal battle with Brazil
Published 06:51, 10 Sep 2022
The other finalist will emerge later on Saturday, when Italy take on Slovenia in the second semifinal scheduled at 21:20 local time (19:20 GMT).
Poland’s opposite and captain Bartosz Kurek led the scorers with 24 points to his name, including 21 spikes at a success rate of 53% in attack, two kill blocks and an ace. His teammates on the outside Kamil Semeniuk and Aleksander Sliwka added another 23 and 19, respectively, while Brazilian outside hitter Ricardo Lucarelli was his team’s most prolific player. He scored 18 times before getting injured towards the end of the fourth set, which left him out of play for the rest of the match.
Sliwka impressed early into the first set with back-to-back points from a pulverising swing and from a monster block for a 5-2 lead. However, Brazil caught up at 8-8 and soon stepped in front on an ace by Lucarelli for 11-10. They kept the pressure in attack to widen the gap to as many as four points and reached a triple set point at 24-21 on a successful hit by Yoandy Leal. Poland denied the first two, but finally a net fault, caught by the video challenge, ended the set at 25-23 Brazil’s way.
Poland took control of the scoreboard early into the second set. The gap went as wide as three points after middle Mateusz Bieniek’s super block for 9-6. Everything seemed to be working for the home team in the second half of the set. A five-point series put them at a 17-10 lead and they kept pace until their other middle blocker Jakub Kochanowski shaped up the 25-18 close with a magnificent stuff.
Brazil had the upper hand early into set three to open a two-point lead. Bieniek’s ace levelled the score back at 7-7. After Brazil had taken another two-point advantage, it was Bieniek again, who wiped it out with a solid block for 12-12. Shortly after, Semeniuk put Poland in front with two blistering pipe shots in a row for 15-13. With the momentum on their side, the Europeans stayed in control through the rest of the set. They ran off with a wide lead and finally Semeniuk finished it off with an off-the-block hit for 25-20.
A fierce battle unfolded in the fourth set, with the lead going back and forth and the gap never exceeding two points until 16-16. However, with Lucarelli owning the net and the Poles helping out with abundant unforced errors, Brazil scored five in a row to gain a 21-16 advantage. Despite Lucarelli being forced off the court by an injury, the South Americans held on to their edge until sub-in setter and captain Bruno Rezende prompted the tie-breaker with a block for 25-21.
Kurek opened the fifth set with two back-to-back kills for 2-0, but Leal reacted with a successful spike and an ace to tie the score at 3-3. However, a three-point run, involving two more kills by Kurek and a monster block by Kochanowski in between, put the home side in front with a 7-4 lead. That did not last long as the score was level again at 7-7. The tight race continued through 12-12, but then it was all about Poland. Sliwka brought in match point with an off-the-block hit and Bieniek finished it all off with a block for 15-12.
“It could not have been a more emotional game. It was out of this world!” Sliwka exclaimed after the match. “We are so excited. It’s hard to believe that we are in the final. We are sharing this win today with the fans, but we have one more game to go tomorrow and will do our best again. This is just the highest possible level, as the best teams in the world are here at the World Championship. We are really grateful to the fans. I can’t find the words to describe it. They are exceptional! They are amazing and we’ll count on them tomorrow as well.”