Poland Mateusz Bieniek VNL

Poland’s Mateusz Bieniek in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Manila leg at Mall of Asia Arena. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—Top-ranked Poland had to gut out a comeback win against a gutsy Slovenia in five sets, 29-31, 21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-13, in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) at Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.

Despite being down 0-2, the Polish showed why they are the top team at the moment by staying focused and calm to complete their comeback effort against the No. 8-ranked Slovenians.

“On such a high level, you can’t have one minute of distraction or lose your focus and that’s what we’ve been trying to tell ourselves after the first two sets,” Bartosz Kurek said after helping Poland get the victory with 10 points.

“I told them, let’s stay focused, let’s stay calm and our moment will come. The moment came and we were able to catch it.”

Poland’s run did not come easy as the Slovenians came close to sweeping the top-ranked squad and trailed by just three in the third set, 18-21.

Poland Slovenia VNL

Poland celebrates five-set win over Slovenia. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

However, Bartosz Bednorz, who finished with 14 points, lit the match of the Polish’s comeback rally with a kill. Jakub Kochanowski ended the set with an ace that set up the come-from-behind victory.

After much of the same story in the fourth set, Poland dealt the finishing blow in the final frame.

With the score tied at 10-all, Kochanowski recorded a monster block that uncorked a 5-3 game-ending blitz to seal the deal for Poland. He finished with nine points built on two blocks.

Aleksander Sliwka spearheaded Poland in the scoring column with 20 points while Mateusz Bieniek also chipped in 11 in the dub.

Klemen Čebulj and Rok Možič, meanwhile, registered 20 and 17 markers, respectively, in a losing effort for Slovenia.

Poland’s Bartosz Kurek after their win over Slovenia.He finished with 10 points in the victory. #VNL2023

Posted by Inquirer Sports on Wednesday, July 5, 2023


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