June 2, 2023

Poland overcame Croatia in the opening match of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2022 on Friday.

With many of their fans cheering from the stands at the GelreDome in Arnhem, Poland felt at home in the Netherlands as they won the match. The Poles prevailed in a hard-fought match by a score of 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-23, 25-15), despite the opponents’ heroic efforts to pull off the first upset of the competition.

The games in Pool B will continue on Saturday in Arnhem, starting with Türkiye taking on Thailand at 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT), followed by the Dominican Republic playing Korea at 18:30 local time (16:30). The top four teams in each of the four round-robin pools will move on to the next phase of the event, which will consist of additional pool play.

The performance of Poland’s middle blockers was the primary factor that contributed to the team’s overall success. As the match progressed, Agnieszka Korneluk, who was originally known by her maiden name Kakolewska, was responsible for as many as seven of her team’s total of thirteen stuff blocks.

She finished with 14 points, seven of which came from attacks, of which she was successful 58% of the time. Kamila Witkowska contributed four kill blocks and an ace to her match total of 12 points, while Olivia Rozanski and Lucija Mlinar, both of whom played the role of Olivia Rozanski’s counterpart in Croatia, tied for the title of highest scorer with 16 points each.

Joanna Wolosz, the setter for Poland and also the captain of the team, received the first serve of the World Championship. Korneluk scored the first point of the match with a two-handed overpass kill. Poland jumped off to an early lead of 5-2 thanks to the combined blocking efforts of Korneluk and Rozanski.

Meanwhile, opposite Magdalena Stysiak continued to blast the opposition’s field from a variety of locations on the court in order to maintain her team in control of the match. Setter Lea Deak served up the tournament’s first ace, which took Croatia back to within three points of the score at 18-15. However, it was an ace served up by Poland’s sub-in setter Katarzyna Wenerska that brought in set point at 25-19. After after, Poland won the set with a score of 25-19 thanks to a serve from Croatia that went into the net.

In the second set, Croatia mounted a comeback and won. They jumped off to an early lead of 6-2 after scoring four points in a row, and they never gave up that lead. The Croatian team was able to maintain their lead despite the best efforts of the two Polish middles despite the fact that the Croatian middle Martina Samadan controlled the net. Samanta Fabris, the opposing team’s captain, successfully wedged the ball between the net and the Polish blockers to earn a set point at 24-21, which Deak expertly converted with a monster block to win the match at 25-21.

Playmaker Deak evened the score at 6-6 for Croatia in the third set, bringing them back from a 5-2 deficit to defeat Poland. He did this by finding an empty position at the back of the Polish half and then tipping the ball deep with two hands. A five-point rally by Croatia was capped off with an ace served by middle Bozana Butigan for 11-7 and a kill delivered by Mlinar for 12-7 off of an overpass.

Despite the effective blocking by Korneluk on the opposing side of the net, Croatia maintained their offensive pressure and were able to increase their lead to eight points (16-8) but, they were unable to maintain their advantage. The Poles scored seven consecutive points to restore control of the match and take a 22-20 lead. This was accomplished with Wenerska back behind the serving line and substitute opposite Monika Galkowska on fire offensively. Despite the fact that the Croatians were able to tie the score back up at 23-23, it was eventually Korneluk who produced the winning break point with an overpass kill for 25-23.

Even in the fourth set, Croatia got off to a strong start. They took the lead for good at 4-1 thanks to Mlinar’s ace, but it did not hold up for very long. Poland staged a comeback by scoring five points in a row, including a hit to the back row by Stysiak that tied the score at 7-7 and an ace serve by Rozanski that put Poland up 8-7 on their way to a 10-7 victory.

Deak’s direct serve for a point brought Croatia back to within one point, and the score stood at 11-10; however, the rest of the set belonged to Poland. The co-hosts continued to dominate play and built a sizable advantage, which they capped off with an off-the-net ace served by middle Witkowska to win 25-15.

“Oh, my gosh! It was a challenging match. I am extremely proud of my kids because they pushed and fought until the very end of the third set, just like Croatia did. Croatia fought until the very finish of the match. Wolosz said after the game, “I think it made the difference, and in the fourth, it was much simpler to play and produce this victory.”

On the first day of the World Championship, there will be one more match on the schedule. The hosts, the Netherlands, will begin their hospitality with Kenya at 20:00 (local time; 18:00 GMT).

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