Semi Finals – Day Two

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Tuesday night was another big volleyball double on Polish TV.  Again Jastrzębski Węgiel played Kędzierzyn in the first game, and a game for mothers and winners it was.  By that I mean that the normally, wives and girlfriends will support their partners in NEARLY every situation, but for mothers, there is no line., they will ALWAYS support their sons.  And so will the fans of winners.  For everyone else this was a forgettable match.  It is exactly the kind of match that often happens when teams play two days in a row at the end of a long season.  Both teams were obviously struggling, which meant that once one team got a lead, they were able to not only hold it, but extend it.  And so the teams traded sets until the fifth where a mighty effort from both sides kept it even until Kędzierzyn fell over the line.  The outstanding player on the court was Kędzierzyn’s passer hitter Michał Ruciak who was one of the few players on court who seemed to have energy to spare.  For Jastrzębie both Hardy and Yudin were below their best and spent parts of the match supporting their teammates from the sidelines.  Having won one match on the road, Jastrzębie would normally be favourites to take two matches at home, but with only two days break and then another two matches in a row, the series might be decided by the physios, who mend the bodies, and coaches, who mend the minds.

The Bełchatów – Rzeszów matchup was on this night the much better spectacle of the two.  Rzeszów made a much improved showing from Monday night with Finnish opposite Oivanen particularly impressive but Bełchatów just had too much fire power.  They have the luxury of having the two starting passer hitters for the Polish European Champion team (Kurek, Bąkiewicz) coming off (or more often staying on) the bench.  And they have a great opposite in Mariusz Wlazły who deservedly won the player of the match.  How a guy who must barely weigh 80kgs can generate so much speed and power is a mystery to me.  Rzeszów must have hopes of winning one match at home, but I can’t see how they could win two.  In a similar situation two years (albeit in a quarter final) Bełchatów didn’t book a hotel or bring a change of clothes to the away games, only to lose the first match and put a lot of stress on the team manager.  I doubt if they’ll make that mistake again but they should still be able to quietly spend the weekend preparing for the rescheduled Champions League Final Four.

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