According to Italian volleyball news website volleyball.it, there are 30 days until the World Championships begin. They are normally pretty good with the news stuff, so I will take their word for it. Most teams seem to be coming to the end of their major training period and are just starting to poke their toes into the ‘competitive’ waters. I say ‘competitive’ because only actual competition is really competitive, but that’s a topic for another day.
The most famous name in Polish volleyball is Hubert Wagner. He was the coach of the Polish men’s team that won the World Championships in 1974 and the Olympics in 1976. He built the reputation of Polish volleyball both inside and outside the country and for better or, more often, worse, is the coach by whom all other Polish coaches are measured. To help ensure he is never forgotten, the Polish Federation play a tournament in his honour every year. It is proably the most prestigious regular ‘friendly’ (it’s not really friendly either) tournament on the international men’s calendar. This year’s version was held in Bydgoszcz, in front of thousands of screaming fans. I didn’t actually see, but I’m certain that was the case. I’m also prepared to go on record as saying there was a small festival in the parking lot on all three days of the tournament. That turned out be a lucky thing for Polish fans as they had something to distract them from the results. Playing against Brazil, Bulgaria and Czech Republic, the hosts won only against the latter. Bulgaria surprised them in a 3-1 victory on the first day and Brazil were much too strong on the Sunday. Brazil managed to win all matches comfortably and Murilo won another MVP trophy. Interesting sidenotes included:
– the continuing absence from the starting lineup of Giba until the last match
– Marlon starting all matches as setter
– Poland playing without their 2nd and 3rd middle blockers due to injury
– Polish opposite Wlazly playing one match (against Bulgaria)
– Brazilian coach Bernardinho was going for his 300th win as coach of Brazil in the first match of the tournament, but injured his achilles tendon on Thursday and went straight back to Brazil.
On the other side of the world, Australia landed in Argentina and lost the first match of a mini tournament against the hosts. Argentina were doubtless happy to win a match after suffering through an embarrassing World League finals at home after which the coach, Javier Weber, was moved to publicly apologise for the performance. Tunisia is also playing in the tournament.
Aside from the tournament in Argentina, Bulgaria will be visiting Italy this week and the World League qualification is being held in Japan (Korea beat Japan in the first match) and Puerto Rico.
To follow the countdown more closely, i.e. down to the second, check out the home of the World Championships.