IBB Polonia London introduced London to European volleyball! On Wednesday 30th October, in the Copper Box Arena, a huge moment in the history of British sport and CEV Champions League took place. The team from London took on the champions of Croatia: Mladost Zagreb.
Following on from the first match that was lost in Zagreb (3-0), the time came to take revenge. The Londoners started badly under huge pressure from the Croatians. Despite fighting well, the visitors took the initiative early on and the English Champions found it hard to score. The Croatians served enormous serves and took the first set 25-9. The second set was a totally different affair at the beginning. Both teams played very evenly and scored point for point up to 7-7. At this point the visitors took some good points and then extended their lead to take the second set 25-12. In the third set, the roles were reversed. It was IBB Polonia London that were the stronger and were 17-11 ahead. Despite this Mladost did not give point easily and fought hard throughout and clawed back the score to 18-18. The game then entered a point for point phase but at the end Mladost took the third set 25-23. The MVP was awarded to Kovacevic Stefan, the number 7 from Mladost Zagreb.
Despite the scoreline, the standard of play from both teams was very high. The organisation of the event was very professional from the home team. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric and the 900 fans were whipped into a frenzy by the entertainment and DJs. This shows the world that London is becoming a new hotbed of volleyball in the world and is able to stage a world class event.
“The team from Croatia played unbelievable volleyball, but we will keep going. We need to train more, find more sponsors and keep promoting this beautiful sport. Its super important that IBB Polonia London are doing this. The atmosphere was just like in Brasil; they party hard and don’t stop until the end.” Giba, IBB Polonia London.
“We have to realise that we are at the transition from amateurs to professionals. We played against a super professional team and we can see the result. During training today, only half the team were available, as they were working. Im very happy for the great set that we played. It was not that the other team gave us points. Believe me this was amazing: listen to my voice!” Evangelos Koutouleas, Head Coach of IBB Polonia London.
“We came here for victory and this is what we achieved. We will play the champions of Austria next. In London we played an excellent match and in two sets we performed solidly. In the third set we lost concentration, but despite this, we won. The atmosphere was amazing; I hope we will come back to play IBB Polonia London again some time and hope that they will continue to improve. Let’s see each other again in the Champions League.” Ravic Ivan, Mladost Zagreb.
“The match in Zagreb was hard, because this was the first time that we saw this English team. After the first match, we did our scouting and had a solid match plan organised ahead of today. The first two sets were good for us, because technically we are a better team. The third set gave us some technical problems and I had to make some changes; but finally we won the match 3-0 and we enjoyed the atmosphere in the hall. The organisation was very very good from the home team. I want everything good for this club. I think England must have a good team in the Champions League because England is a big country. I think they have the possibility.” Radovan Malevic, Head Coach of Mladost Zagreb.
IBB Polonia London has a chance to play in CEV Cup. More about this tournament will be published soon. This weekend, IBB Polonia London has a match in the English Super League. It is away fixture against Richmond Docklands.