The 24-year-old Malwina Smarzek has helped Poland’s women’s team strengthen their position on the international stage and has also made an impact at club level where she has enjoyed success in Poland and Italy.
Smarzek is currently starring in Italy’s Serie A where she has played for the past three seasons. First, she spent two years with Volley Bergamo after signing in 2018 from Chemik Police, who she had helped win two Polish titles.
Then this summer she knocked back offers to return to Poland’s Super Liga to sign for Igor Gorgonzola Novara.
“I was thinking about going back to Poland, but I wanted to stay in Italy,” Smarzek said. “I had an offer to go back to Poland, but I didn’t want to. Not because I do not like the level of the championship or how its organised, but because I enjoy living in Italy.
“I am enjoying this championship and I am happy that I am able to play at this level. It is fantastic that the Italian league hasn’t lost any of its quality despite the difficulties of the last few months.”
Smarzek first came to the volleyball world’s attention when she helped Poland win the U18 European Championship in 2013.
The opposite spiker then made her national team debut in 2014 at the age of 18 and ever since her performances have established her as one of Poland’s first choice players.
She participated in Poland's 2017 European Championship campaign, and then scored 361 points in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL), a total she improved on in 2019 when she finished with 421 points.
That year she scored 42 points against Bulgaria, the best scoring performance in the VNL’s short history, and was named MVP when Poland won the Montreux Volley Masters with victory over Japan in four sets.
Chasing the Olympic dream
The 1.91m-tall Smarzek was also named MVP for the tournament, but there was frustration a few months later when Poland failed to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after they finished behind Serbia during the European Tokyo Volleyball Qualification tournament in Wroclaw, and then lost out to Turkey in the Continental Olympic Qualifiers.
Having missed the Japan 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship, it means that Smarzek will need to be at her best in the coming decade to help Poland continue to push the leading sides in women’s volleyball.
For now, she will be concentrating on helping Novara win their first Serie A title since 2017.
“I am an attacker and a leader of the team, so I have to prove to myself and to others,” Smarzek said. “I am excited to be playing for a team like this, who also play in the Champions League.
“This is a big deal for me and my biggest sporting challenge so far. I am happy that the club wanted to sign a contract with me. It showed a great deal of trust in me.”
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