Poland's Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata at the 2013 edition of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 9, 2015 - Poland’s female volleyball players have a lot of competition from their male counterparts for a spot in the limelight in their homeland. The European champions from 2003 and 2005 are looking to attract attention, however, with new coach Jacek Nawrocki and big-name players like Katarzyna Skowrońska-Dolata taking the team forward.
Poland will host the Group 2 Finals of the FIVB World Grand Prix from July 31 to August 1. The annual showdown between the top teams in the world is one of this year’s real highlights for the Polish team. Group 2 consists of eight teams: Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland and Puerto Rico. Hosts Poland and the top three teams from the preliminary round progress to the Finals.
Many of Poland’s top players from previous years are returning to the Polish team this year. The biggest name in the 25-woman squad for the Grand Prix is undoubtedly Skowonska-Dolata.
The two-time European champion recently also announced that she would be returning to Poland to play her club volleyball with Impel Wroclaw. “I'm going positively tuned. I had a month break from volleyball and I began to miss it already. Looking forward to the Grand Prix, one important step on our way to Rio.”
Polish coach Nawrocki has his sights set on a return to the glory days of old for his new team – as has Giovanni Guidetti for the proud volleyball nation of the Netherlands.
After eight successful years in Germany, with two silver medals at the European Championships, the coach who led Vakifbank Istanbul to the FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship title has taken on a new challenge. As well as the FIVB World Grand Prix, the Dutch are also focusing on a European Championship on home soil and, of course, qualifying for the Olympics. “I look forward to my new job every day. I want the Netherlands to find the courage to win,” said the Italian. His efforts bore their first fruit at the Volleyball Masters in Montreux, where Russia and China were among the teams defeated by the Netherlands.
The 25-woman Dutch squad for the World Grand Prix is led by Robin De Kruijf, who also plays her club volleyball under Guidetti at Vakifbank. It goes without saying that the roster also includes top hitter Manon Nummerdor-Flier.
The Croatian team, which has been promoted from Group 3, also features numerous stars. The biggest of these is captain Maja Polak, whose outstanding blocking led Eczacibasi Istanbul to triumph at the FIVB Club World Championship and in the European Champions League. However, Mia Jerkov and Ana Grbac are also big names on the global volleyball scene.
Last year’s Group 3 winners at the FIVB World Grand Prix, Bulgaria, travel to Poland with a new coach, Dragan Nesic, and a number of top players who ply their trade in international leagues. Doriana Rabadzhieva and Eitsa Vasileva promise to have a big influence on the tournament. The Czech squad boasts the outstanding top scorer from last year’s World Grand Prix – Aneta Havlickova – who amassed a remarkable 153 points 12 months ago. The Argentinean team, Las Panteras, is led by captain Paula Yamila Nizetich and coach Guillermo Orduna.
The remaining two teams in Group 2 of the FIVB World Grand Prix have already met this year. Canada won two friendly matches against Puerto Rico 3-1 and 3-0.
German coach Arnd Ludwig has called up a number of big-name exports to his Canadian team, including Brittney Page and Tabitha Love. They are joined by six ladies who play their volleyball in the German Bundesliga. In contrast, Puerto Rico is putting its faith solely in players who earn their money in their homeland.
The 23rd edition of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix will run from June 26 to August 1, 2015 with 28 teams in three groups. The Group 1 Finals will take place in Omaha, USA from July 22-26. Poland will host the Group 2 Finals from July 31 to August 1, while the Group 3 Finals will take place in Australia from July 10-12.
The FIVB World Grand Prix has grown spectacularly since its first edition in 1993, when it featured just eight teams. The increase in the number of participating teams brings with it an increased level of competition and has also helped to spread the World Grand Prix to new territories around the world.