Once again, the next big event in London’s volleyball experience is consigned to history. On Thursday 19th December, 2019. IBB Polonia London played the first ever match in the CEV Cup for a British team. The National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace witnessed the arrival of numerous fans of volleyball, and they relished the opportunity to watch the match between the English and Dutch champions. Unfortunately, it was the visitors who, as they did three years ago, emerged the victors and eliminated the British club from Europe.
The first leg of the tie in Apeldoorn, ended 3:0 (25:14; 25:17; 25:20) and the Londoners knew they had to achieve something remarkable to stand a chance of progressing. Draisma Dynamo came to London with one aim: to make it through to the next round. Their dream came true and they won the tie convincingly 0:3 (14:25; 20:25; 20:25).
„We deserve something more. We can’t forget that we play against a fully professional team. In England we don’t have opponents on this level to play and practise with; we could see this difference today. Two sets were 20:25 and I think that if we were more focussed, we would have a chance to beat them. To compete on this level we have to practise on this level daily. Today we played better than in Netherlands, but we lost first set and then the second set, we knew that it is the end of our journey in this competition.” – said Head Coach of IBB Polonia London, Evangelos Koutouleas.
“We definitely didn’t expect a result like this. We thought we had the ability to put up a better fight, but as usual, we take some positives away with us. We knew how the opponents would play, but we were not able to stay at that level for long enough. We played them a few years ago, and it is hard to say which of the two squads of theirs was the stronger. Draisma played very well today, and showed their collective passion. We congratulate them for their win and wish them well in the next round” said IBB Polonia London, Captain Bartosz Kisielewicz.
„The second game is always more difficult, because you need to qualify and you are afraid of losing the game and playing a golden set. It was a pleasure to play in London. The environment here is nice, so I am very happy with the experience here and all of my stay in London. Next round we play in Russia, so we have to compete with one of the strongest team in the world, so we know our level and we are aware of the challenge we have to aim. If you are realistic, we have no chance to beat them, but we have to believe in our dreams and go for it.” Said Head Coach of Draisma Dynamo Apeldoorn, Redbad Strikwerda.
Despite the result, the fans enjoyed themselves. The pre-Christmas period resulted in fewer fans than normal: about 300 witnessed the game, but that was sufficient to make a great atmosphere. The volleyball fans warmly welcomed back one of their favourite players from last season: Seain Cook.
“It is nice to play against your friends like ex-teammates. There is a lot competitiveness and good fun, and always noisy supporters. Before coming here we didn’t expect this result, but I think we won because the league in the Netherlands is better. We have more teams on the same level. Right now the whole team is really excited to play with the Russian team, because we know they are a very good team.” Said Seain Cook, ex-player of IBB Polonia London and player of Draisma Dynamo Apeldoorn.
Despite the lack of success in European competitions this season, IBB Polonia London is rightfully proud of other achievements. The existing Champion of England, thanks to its reputation and hard work, attracted a BBC reporting unit to the final training session before the CEV Cup match against Apeldoorn. The segment about the club and the imminent game was broadcast at peak viewing time on BBC1.
These events concluded the first half of the 2019/2020 season. Koutouleas’ players now have time to rest and recover over the festive period. Matches resume in mid-January; the details of when and where will appear on the official media pages.
Results of 1/16 CEV Cup:
Draisma Dynamo Apeldoorn – IBB Polonia London 3:0 (25:14; 25:17; 25:20)
IBB Polonia London – Draisma Dynamo Apeldoorn 0:3 (14:25; 20:25; 20:25)