The European competitions have concluded for IBB Polonia London at the 1/8 finals stage. Despite the loss against OK Nis NIS (1:3), history was made once again for the club and for the whole of English volleyball. The December encounter was the final match for the Londoners in the 2020/2021 season which was the biggest rollercoaster imaginable.
On Tuesday, 15th December, IBB Polonia London played the 1/8 final of the CEV Cup. The opposition was the Serbian team OK Nis NIS. The start of the match was a very even tussle between the teams, and the entire set was level until the last minute with IBB Polonia London taking the set 25:22. The start of the second set looked to be going the same way, with the Brits leading the way up to 23:20, at this point the Serbs turned the screw and closed out the set with a run of points 25:23. The final two sets followed the same pattern with the two teams being level until mid-set, but the game was not to be won and the result ended 1:3 (25:22; 23:25; 20:25; 21:25) in favour of the team from the Balkans.
„We are totally responsible for the result. In my opinion we were totally in control. In the first set we played some good volleyball and won the set, but then something changed. We started to play badly and made too many errors which sapped our energy. We had the chance to win the second set, but we threw it away and also the entire match. We placed too much pressure on ourselves and were not able to salvage the situation” said Marcus Nilsson, opposite for IBB Polonia London
The route to the 1/8th final was incredibly challenging and demanding for the entire club. Like everyone else, the club had to work with the restrictions of the global situation. The covid rules created the need for a dynamically changing situation from week to week and from hour to hour. The first demand occurred before even the Champions League matches. Following the return from Italy, the situation became even tougher in the UK. The maximum group size allowed together was six, and then indoor sport was forbidden and so a state of hibernation ensued for the team. To prepare for the matches in the CEV Cup, together with the amazing support from PGE Skra Belchatow, the club relocated to Poland. Unfortunately a few days before the departure to France, the first setter was tested positive for the coronavirus. Consequently, an emergency protocol was implemented immediately to ensure the safety of all players and staff at the training camp. The entire playing and coaching staff were PCR tested twice before they competed in the CEV Cup in France.
„We worked so hard to get here. We achieved the almost impossible to ensure the team could play the CEV Cup. We overcame a stream of obstacles placed in our way during this bizarre season. In terms of organisation, we made a huge step forward, and treated the obstacles as challenges. Beating the Serbs was our mission and goal, and this is why we are so upset. We had to play and also to win. We did everything to perfection, but for some reason things didn’t come together. We learnt a very painful lesson, which we have to accept. There are no excuses, only solutions to prevent a repeat of this again in the future” said IBB Polonia London President Bartek Luszcz.
The 2020/21 season is now concluded at the 1/8th stage of the CEV Cup. It will be remembered as the toughest ever in the history of the club. The only competition open to the club were the CEV Champions League and CEV Cup, because Volleyball England suspended all domestic competitions including the Cup and league.
„We are very sad that the season ended like this, but the time for detailed analysis will come. I just want to thank the entire team for their hardworking, dedication and personal sacrifice which brought us here. Many teams simply gave up, but we were adamant to continue to the very end. I am proud of this next enormous step for any English club and for English and British volleyball, but I must admit it was not a success. We lost the match, but it will not extinguish our determination for the future. We will continue to work towards our development and ultimately winning the Champions League” said IBB Polonia London CEO, Bartek Luszcz.
IBB Polonia London – OK NIS Nis 1:3 (25:22; 23:25; 20:25; 21:25)
Pic. Fabrice Chort