In the Italian town of Trento, the volleyball giants Trentino played their first round matches against IBB Polonia London and OK Vojvodina Novi Sad. Group F kicked off on 29th September 2020 in a new format of the biggest club competition in existence. Despite two defeats, IBB Polonia London can rightly claim that their performance was a huge success. The standard of their play was of the highest calibre and the Londoners did everything in their power to challenge the two giants of the sport throughout each set. In the end, the group F winners, were predictable Trentino Itas, but both the English and Serbian champions will be able to continue to fight for silverware in the CEV Cup. IBB Polonia London will face the Czech Team Volejbal Brno.
In the first match, IBB Polonia London played Trentino Its on Tuesday 29th September, and it was the Italians who took the victory. All three sets in the game followed a similar pattern. Up to 10-10 it really was a very level contest, and then it was Trentino who took the initiative each time and opened up a lead of several points; each time they kept their lead and extended it bit by bit. The match was over 0-3 (16:25; 17:25; 15:25).
The second game took place on Wednesday 30th September between the Serbian Champions and the English Champions. In the first set, the contest was even until about half way, until the English team managed to take a few quick points which they maintained until the conclusion at 25-21. The second set went the way of the team from the Balkans and despite enormous spirit the Londoners couldn’t close the gap. The set score was the exact reverse of the first 21-25. Koutouleas’ players fought hard in the third set dominating to 19-14, then it was the Serbians who stepped up a gear and closed the gap and were the first to 25 points winning to 23. The fourth set was a little easier for Novi Sad, and IBB Polonia struggled throughout and soon the set was over 18-25 and the match was ended with the Brits losing 1-3. (21:25; 25:21; 25:23; 25:18).
Not winning the group cannot be considered a failure nor an indicator of the standard of volleyball played. There is an enormous amount of positive news to come out of the games, not least pride and happiness. The team from the capital of England managed to secure the first ever set of volleyball won by an English club in the CEV Champions League. A set in this prestigious event saw the players and club gain valuable experience and court time with true behemoths of the sport. The MVP of the match with the Serbs was the IBB Polonia London opposite, Marcus Nilsson. The club’s successes were broadcast, after many years, on an open TV channel in UK. This is yet another milestone for the club from London. It is another marker that shows the progress being made towards the eventual goals. One of these goals is showing British people the beauty of the sport and popularising it in the UK.
All of this concludes the second adventure in this incredible competition; the CEV Champions League. It increases the motivation even more for the next time, and even greater success. In the meantime, following the trip home, it will be time to start to focus on the next phase of the season. The next European team is waiting for IBB Polonia London which will take place in November 2020: the CEV Cup. Details of the event will be found on the official club website.
“From my perspective, this edition of the Champions League was an emotional roller coaster. We came to the high temple of volleyball to show that we can play volleyball, and we certainly did this. We have built a strong team that represented the club very well in Italy. I think, in the first match, we played as well as we could, we competed for every ball. In the second match, we believed we could do something special to show that we are heading in the right direction. I am delighted, that under these circumstances, we could reveal our new match kit. I am proud of the project. Once again we have a historical Polish-British design. Thanks to this we continue the dialogue between the two nations.” said CEO of IBB Polonia London, Bartek Luszcz.
“We can consider the event a success. We played two huge clubs, which belong in the world’s super elite. We have not had the chance to play teams like this before. We managed to win a historic set and so we hold our heads high and can be proud of how we performed. We caused both teams a considerable obstacle, and they didn’t have it all their own way. We fought for every ball, we were not scared of the opposition, and we gave 100%. We played well.” said IBB Polonia London Team Captain, Bartosz Kisielewicz.
„I think the result isn’t what we should focus on. I am delighted how we played and the spirit that we showed. Trentino is a huge club and I am impressed with how they treated us: that they really wanted to win and that they played almost all match with their strongest players. They did everything that they could, but so did we. We knew the size of the task ahead of us, but we played with freedom. The biggest difference was the serve. They had some huge serving players on their side. In the end we were not strong enough to beat one of the top teams in Europe, but I think we gave a very good account of ourselves.” said Marcus Nilsson, opposite for IBB Polonia London.
„We approached the Champions League with total concentration. Our aim was to show our ability and to represent the club strongly, and we can honestly say that we achieved this. We coped psychologically very well whilst playing Trentino. Up to the half way point in each set, we were their equals. Nobody gave up. After that massive serving pressure became the difference between the two teams, and this aspect of the game produced the result.” said Dominik Zmuda, assistant coach for IBB Polonia London.
Pool F results:
IBB Polonia London – Trentino Itas 0-3 (16:25; 17:25; 15:25)
OK Vojvodina Seme Novi Sad – IBB Polonia London 3-1 (21:25; 25:21; 25:23; 25:18)
Trention Itas – OK Vojvodina Seme Novi Sad 3-0 (25:19; 25:20; 25:18)
More information about the shirt design can be found in this article.
Pic. Trentino Itas