Due to the challenges facing sports teams around the world, IBB Polonia London had to travel to Greece to play friendly matches in preparation for CEV Champions League. The seven times Champions of England have qualified to play in the prestigious CEV Champion’s League 2020/2021 season. In the first round, the opponents will be amongst the best in the World: Trentino Its, the Italian powerhouse and also the Serbian Champions OK Vojvodina Some Novi Sad.
The pandemic has caused significant issues in relation the way that many sporting events are taking place. The world has had to adapt and change to new regulations and obstacles; IBB Polonia London has not escaped these issues. The first issue to overcome was the lack of indoor training venues and had to think creatively to work around this problem. Very few teams had started training in the UK and this resulted in the training weekend in Athens Greece. The team took on three heavyweights of Greek top flight volleyball Olympiakos Pireus, AOK Kifisia and ONS Milon; the results are indicated below. This is likely to be the only opportunity Koutouleas’ players will have to challenge themselves against any opposition before flying to Trento in Italy.
The team travelled to Athens at almost full strength; this season has seen a significant reinforcement to an already dominant squad in the UK. Some of the new arrivals are Anestis Dalakouras, Peter Edwards and Andrea Maggio. In previous seasons, some elite names have been captain Bartosz Kisielewicz and the Olympian Aden Tutton. Marcus Nilsson, had just joined from two weeks in Poland with PGE Skra Belchatow under the watchful eye of Michal Mieszko Gogol. He was on the team list for each of the three matches over the long weekend. Unfortunately a serious injury to one of the receivers resulted in an immediate on court reshuffle and the team found it tough to come back from this early obstacle. More news on the medical situation of this player will be known following the MRI scan.
Thanks to three very tough opponents, the coaching team could analyse each player’s abilities at this level and conclude where to concentrate the training time as the Champion’s League competition in Trento between 29th September and 1st October 2020. On 29th September at 8.30pm IBB Polonia London’s first opponents will be Trentino Itas. Then the next day the Champions of Serbia take on the Champions of England at 8.30pm. Details of broadcasts will follow shortly.
„Following an extremely long break, the hunger for competition was evident on court. The trip to Athens was a great opportunity to test the squad before the Champion’s League event and it resulted in three strong performances. I think that the Serbian Champions will be of a similar standard to Olympiakos Pireus who had an enormous serving arsenal, but having said that, we were equal to it in serve receive. In each of the games, the very end of each set made a few uncharacteristic errors giving the opponents the advantage. Considering we have only been training for three weeks, due to the pandemic, and that our opposite only joined last week, we can be optimistic. We know what we have to work on to improve our cohesion on court and to make an even better performance in Trento.” said IBB Polonia London assistant coach Patrik Selep.
“For me it was a really nice weekend. I am delighted that we could travel to Greece for some fine tuning before the big games start. These games were the first friendlies against good level teams! We had ups and downs in our matches which I think is normal for the first games. We unfortunately had one more problem with our player’s injury. I hope the best for him and for him to come back with us quickly! Our coaches will watch the videos and we will try to improve some parts of our game during the week for the Champions League qualification. These games with such powerhouses as Trentino and Vojvodina will be really tough, but we will give our best to make two more good games.” said Anestis Dalakouras, IBB Polonia London outside hitter.
Training match results:
Olympiakos Pireus – IBB Polonia Londyn 4:1 (25:14; 25:14; 25:15; 11:25; 25:22)
AOK Kifisia – IBB Polonia Londyn 4:0 (26:24; 25:11; 25:23; 25:21)
AONS Milon – IBB Polonia Londyn 3:1 (25:21; 21:25; 25:19; 15:11)
Match schedule for Group F Champion’s League:
IBB Polonia LONDON – TRENTINO Itas 20:30 29/09
OK Vojvodina Seme NOVI SAD – IBB Polonia LONDON 20:30 30/09
TRENTINO Itas – OK Vojvodina Seme NOVI SAD 20:30 01/10