The first day of the Super 8 Playoffs went very well for Polonia. Polonia took Leeds apart 3-0 in their first encounter of the day. A scrappy performance was interspersed at time with moments of genius! The starting team was much the same as had been established through what Americans call “the regular season” : Alex Chevau setting, Kuba Jablonski opposite, Tom Lasocki and Pat Selep in the middle, with Michas Saller and Dusan Valasek as passer hitters. Andrzej Saller completed the line up. The first set went overwhelmingly in Polonia’s favour but the next two were closer affairs, with Leeds making clusters of errors. Polonia’s coach Vangelis Koutouleas had put together a good game plan that had outsmarted the Leeds coach! As a result of the first set, he took players off and rotated others around in an attempt to stop a Polonia onslaught. Polonia saw Alex Chevau come on for some excellent blocking at the net and Dom Maslach contributed by passing and serving well. Polonia won fairly quickly 25-16, 25-22 and 25-23.
Having scouted Sheffield earlier, it was evident from their defeat of 3-2, that they were likely to be more tired than Polonia. They fought hard and the match lasted much longer than they would have liked. The first set was a very cagey affair with both teams looking tired and trying “not to lose” rather than stamp their authority on the game. Both teams had to make enforced substitutions in the middle as a Sheffield player had a one match ban following a second yellow card and Tomek Lasocki had to return to London for an event! In his place stepped Timo Jostiak a high jumping, hard hitting recent addition to the team from Slovakia. Older readers will remember the powerhouses of Stuart Watson, Matt Jones and Marcus Russell, all of whom could put the ball into the ceiling from a hit. Well they have been usurped by Timo who hits harder than anyone else in this country I have ever seen! Usually an opposite player, he worked well in the middle and was only stopped once by the Sheffield block. Dusan Valasek played well and Alex Chevau distributed expertly. It was not the best team performance this season, but Polonia came back from an eight point deficit in the fourth set to win by 5 points! Sheffield looked to be wearing lead boots and were unable to execute any of the skills causing greater and greater frustration to their coach.
So Polonia begin the second phase of the playoffs next weekend in first position. Its been many years since Polonia have been able to say we are the best team in the country!
The team returned to London by train, all enjoying the sweet taste of victory and the refreshing taste of Tyskie beer!