Polonia IMKA London vs. Oslo Volley: 0-3 (20-25, 21-25, 14-25)
Today’s game saw Polonia IMKA London take on Oslo Volley. Polonia got off to a positive start with Gabi Medricka passing well and Cinzia Pezzolesi making good use of the open line on her attack. Brynn Maurer, who had arrived from a professional trip to Germany on the night before, made an immediate impact in the libero position, coordinating Polonia’s backcourt and passing consistently. Maria Kikira was also effective with deep hitting into the opposition’s backcourt, while Ildiko ‘Dobi’ Dobos picked up where she left off in the last two matches and continued to create opportunities for her teammates through tactical distribution of the ball and some deft second-touch attacks to keep the opposition’s defence on their toes. At 5-5 there was little to choose between the two sides. However, some mistakes by the Polonia defence allowed Oslo to go ahead 6-10. Oslo was now serving on Gabi Medricka in their attempt to disrupt Polonia’s main attacking option but Gabi held firm on the pass and ensured that setter Dobi had all her options available. A misunderstanding between Dobi and middle player Kelly Monteiro gave Oslo a free point to take the score to 7-13.
Polonia continued to give away points through defensive errors thus allowing Oslo to counter Polonia’s hard earned points with some easy points of their own, to take the score to 9-15. Polonia then began to rally with both Cinzia Pezzolesi and Maria Kikira scoring almost at will to take back some momentum in the game and bring Polonia level at 16-16. However, Oslo came back with a run of their own and, with some improved blocking, moved ahead at 16-20. Coach Mark Kontopoulos made some tactical substitutions to try and close the gap, but this did not stop Oslo’s momentum and they closed out the set at 20-25.
Polonia got off to a poor start in the second set, but an excellent pipe hit from newly introduced Laura Plonka took Polonia into the lead at 4-1. Oslo continued to apply a lot of service pressure, but intelligent play by Laura and good serving by Gabi Medricka kept Polonia ahead at 10-8. The Polonia block was not as effective as it could be and Oslo started to find gaps in Polonia’s defence, as they raced to a 15-16 lead at the second technical timeout. Coach Mark Kontopoulos called another timeout at 15-18 and, once again, Polonia came out fighting with some excellent passing from libero Brynn Maurer and blocking from Kelly Monteiro bringing the score closer at 18-19. More good blocking kept Polonia in the set at 19-20. However, another run of good serving by Oslo, combined with some excellent defence, kept Polonia at bay and gave Oslo the second set by a scoreline of 21-25.
In the third set, setter Dobi Dobos was substituted for Petra Jurikova and Polonia traded points with Oslo up to 5-5. Some lack of communication on court, combined with fatigue from an intense weekend of high level play, resulted in passing and defence errors and Oslo quickly ran away with an 8-16 lead at the second technical timeout. Dobi Dobos was then reintroduced and, despite tired play, Polonia were determined to get back in the game and played out some exciting rallies with Laura Plonka and Gabi Medricka finding success in attack. Anna Borsos was introduced for Cinzia Pezzolesi in an attempt by coach Mark Kontopoulos to add some ‘fresh legs’ on to court, but passing errors took their toll and two consecutive excellent line hits from Oslo sealed the set and match at 14-25.
This match wrapped an overall excellent weekend of international top class volleyball with Polonia competing on even terms with the best teams in Northern Europe in what was the club’s first participation in full international competition and winning great praise from coaches, organisers, spectators and referees alike. The team will be returning home with a wealth of experience and new ideas to keep them challenging themselves as they look forward to bigger and better achievements in this season and beyond.
The club would like to extend a sincere “thank you” to the organisers from Holte Volley, in particular Henrik Borring, for their hospitality and assistance in the weeks preceding the competition and of course during the competition itself.