Poland won four of their six preliminary round matches
Lublin, Poland, July 31, 2015 - The mood is optimistic in “volleyball country” as it has been known since the phenomenal FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in 2014 at which hundreds of thousands of fans in and around the halls created an unparalleled atmosphere. This weekend, the women's national team host the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 2 Finals in Lublin and will hope to take some of that energy forward as they step into the limelight.
New coach Jacek Nawrocki and returning star Katarzyna Skowrońska-Dolata have already celebrated their first successes this year. At the debut of the European Games in Baku in June, Poland’s women won the silver medals. “This is the biggest success a Polish women’s team has had in six years, since we won bronze at the CEV European Championship in 2009. The silver medal is very important to us. We showed how much potential this team has. We didn't have much time to prepare for this competition,” said Poland’s outside spiker Anna Werblinska.
In the preliminary round of the FIVB World Grand Prix, Poland's women went on to win four of six matches.
Their goal for the Group 2 Finals is clear. “We want to win and gain promotion to Group 1. In addition to qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio, this is our main goal,” said Skowonska-Dolata. This is why she and other top players have returned to the Polish selection after a break away from the team.
Skowonska-Dolata was involved in some of Poland's greatest victories. The team were European Champions in 2003 and 2005.
Poland's women also enjoyed a number of successes in the early fifties, when they were among the very best in the world. The team won silver at the first FIVB Women’s World Volleyball Championship in 1952. In the three tournaments that followed, they finished third twice and fourth once. And Poland's women finished on the podium in all of the first eight European volleyball championships between 1949 and 1971: four times in second place, and four times in third place. They also won bronze medals at the Olympic Games in 1964 and 1968.
A long list of successes, which is one of the reasons why volleyball is so popular in Poland. However, as a popular family sport, it also receives government funding: 7.5 million euros worth of grants were provided last year. The national leagues are among the best in the world and attract top players. TV channel Polsat has been broadcasting volleyball for 15 years and sets the standard internationally. In turn, this has an effect on sponsors and volleyball is on a level with football in Poland.
This was demonstrated at the opening match of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship last year when 62,000 spectators packed Warsaw's national stadium to watch hosts Poland take on Serbia. It took less than two hours for the tickets to sell out completely. “As President of the FIVB, I have been at several World Championships, and there is no doubt that this was by far the best edition,” said FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F°. “The greatest success of this event was the public, followed by the organisation. The opening ceremony was spectacular, and can be compared to the opening ceremony of the Olympics. The Polish people should be really proud of this Championship.”
There is no doubt that the Group 2 Finals of the FIVB World Grand Prix will also be a special highlight. And the Polish women's team will want to build on that optimistic mood with victory.