DRZYZGA “HIDES THE BALL” FOR POLISH WIN OVER KOREA
Katowice, Poland, May 25, 2018 – With a stellar performance by their setter Fabian Drzyzga, Poland started off their FIVB Volleyball Nations League campaign with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-21) victory over Korea.
Drzyzga nicely spread the Polish attacks, practically “hiding the ball” from the Korean blockers and diggers. The spikers rose up to the level and got the job done, with two of them, Artur Szalpuk and Aleksander Sliwka, reaching the double digits in attacking points.
Szalpuk became the top scorer of the match with a total of 16 points, including two aces and four blocks. That department made the biggest point difference in the match with 13 stuff blocks against only two for Korea.
The Asian team did their best to put on a fight. Gyeong-Bok Na scored seven times during the first set, but later in the match got replaced to finish with eight. Substitute Jae-Duck Seo, who came into play during the second set, topped Korea’s charts with nine points.
The home fans in Katowice helped create the big match atmosphere at the Spodek, which inspired the squad around coach Vital Heynen to put on a great game and cruise to a straight-set victory.
With the two teams trading break points for a while at the beginning of the first set, the lead switched hands several times, before Artur Szalpuk aced for 9-7 to set Poland on a break-away run to a 12-7 lead. Korea struck back with a couple of spectacular hits by Jiseok Jung to narrow the gap down to three. Poland responded with libero Pawel Zatorski practically scoring a point with a great dig – the ball went deep into the opponents’ half, the Koreans took it for too long and let it drop on the floor. That incredible rally, sandwitched in between two fantastic power shots by Jakub Kochanowski shots through the middle, gave the momentum back to Poland. Opposite Dawid Konarski closed the set at 25-20 Poland’s way, delivering his fifth point in the set.
Poland’s coach Vital Heynen won the first point of the second set with a successful challenge. The blockers chipped in with three points to give the home side a 5-1 lead. Taekeui Hwang brought Korea a little closer with an ace for 10-6. His teammate Jae-Duck Seo delivered another one for 13-10. Polish setter Fabian Drzyzga continued his fabulous performance to give the offensive line many opportunities to shine and regain control of the set. Another successful challenge by coach Heynen made the score 18-13 and put smiles on everyone at the venue, but the Koreans. A couple of more kill blocks made the Korean comeback impossible and the second set was put away at 25-18.
Inspired by the great support of the Katowice crowd, the home team continued to dominate throughout the third set. Drzyzga was doing his magic making it hard for the opponents to decode the Polish offensive efforts. Artur Szalpuk was the big star of this set. Scoring the first break point of the set with a monster one-man block, he set off on a killing spree delivering a total of eight points (five spikes, three blocks) on the way to the eventual victory. The Koreans made far too many unforced errors, including the one in attack, which ended the set and the match at 25-21.
Poland coach Vital Heynen: “I’m satisfied because some players, like Sliwka or Szalpuk looked good on the court. The match against Canada lately was not so good, maybe Korea was not so different an opponent, but I think it’s good to have won at least one game. I’m very good at statistics, maybe we are now first in the tables. Maybe we are leading in Volleyball Nations League? I’m joking of course. We will see what happens tomorrow against Russia and the day after. It’s always important to win matches, which we have to win. The match against Korea went as it was supposed to go.”
Poland captain Michal Kubiak: “3-0 is always a success. The team looked good today. You don’t judge the winners – our coach said that we did not play exactly as he wanted, but the victory is what counts, so that’s important. We now have a new goal ahead of us. We have many debuting players on board and everyone will get a chance to play, gain experience, travel the world, fight the jet lag and most of all fight the opponents on court and fight yourself – see what the Volleyball Nations League is about. I hope we can get into the Final Six, but tomorrow we’re taking on Russia and that’s what we have to focus on.”
Korea coach Kim Hochul: “It’s a great honour for us to be here and play against one of the best teams in the world. It was a very important experience for our players which should help our players in the future. The speed and height were the missing elements in our game because in these aspects Poland were better than us. Our players didn’t show their quality in this match, we had a long journey to come here so they are still struggling with jet lag.”
Korea captain Moon Sung-Min: “We can learn many things from the Polish team. We have to aim to their level to be competitive in the world. I’m really happy that I can play here. In Poland you have great fans, but it’s nothing new for us because in Korea we also enjoy enthusiastic support from our fans. We don’t think about the fact that our opponent is better than us, we are focused on what we have to do on the court. If we show our best game, anything can happen. We have to prepare even better for next matches and focus on our game and then we will see.”
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