On Wednesday, 17th November 2021, IBB Polonia London had to say goodbye to the current edition of the CEV Cup, towards which they have been working since their departure from the Champions League in October. The Dutch team – Orion Doetinchem were the victors in a hotly contested match over five sets and progress to the next round.
It turned out that IBB Polonia London were forbidden from playing a home leg at all in the CEV Cup. Playing in the UK was impossible due to Brexit regulations and non-existent visas for volleyball players. This is despite tireless efforts by The Club in attempting to secure these permits for over 14 months. Consequently the rules state that professional volleyball is not permitted on UK soil. Until the very end, indeed on the same day as yesterday’s game, The Club appealed to the CEV to take into account the numerous issues that were far outside the hands of The Club and to see a fair way to resolve the impasse. Despite both teams suggesting solutions, the CEV was determined to stick to the rules and to award IBB Polonia’s home game as a walkover to Orion. This decision meant that IBB Polonia London had to win 3-0 or 3-1 to fight for the golden set and progression to the next round.
The Londoners started well and found their rhythm early on and took the first set in routine fashion. Sadly the team started to make unforced errors and release their hold on the game. The opposition took the initiative and with it the second set, and the third set. These steps gave them the required number of sets to take the „double header” and progress to the next round. The entire match was very even throughout and ended in a five set victory for the home team Orion 3-2 (21:25; 25:19; 25:22; 21:25; 15:12).
The match was an unbelievable demand on IBB Polonia London due to the reduced squad size; only nine players made the trip to Holland due to Covid and injury. Now the Team returns to Belchatow where they lived together for three months and then a number of the squads will return to London to play in the league against Newcastle Staffs. Details will emerge on the usual social media outlets.
“It’s nice that I came to Holland, where I understand the language and what is going on around me! But I came here to play volleyball and that is what I focussed on. It makes no difference to me if I play in my homeland or wherever on the planet. Volleyball is my job, my profession and so I came to fulfil my role on court and I did that. We started the game with a defeat against us, following the 3-0 walkover, and so we had to go on court and push the opponent. We were winning, but we missed the opportunity.It was possible to win, like also the other games and this is the same scenario again. Now it was even actually difficult, because we don’t have the full squad here to make change.” Said Ramon Martinez Gion, IBB Polonia London captain.
“It is a bit bitter, because we played CEV Cup in different circumstances. We never played a home game and you ended up on the court for the game, where one team needed to win only 2 sets and another one needed to win for 3 points and the golden set. The result didn’t got our way, and time for analysis will come, but I am pleased that the players wanted to win and gave 100% right up to the final whistle.” said Vangelis Koutouleas, Head Coach of IBB Polonia London.
Pic. Frits Bleeker