Forty-three years since the first and last time a Polish club became men’s champions of Europe (Plomien Milowice in 1978) and for the first time since the introduction of the CEV Champions League Volley format in 2000, Poland’s Grupa Azoty Kedzierzyn-Kozle completed their journey to the continental crown.
Fuelled by the mastery of captain and playmaker Benjamin Toniutti of France, Grupa Azoty outplayed five-time club world champions and three-time European champions Trentino Itas Trento of Italy in four sets in Saturday’s Super Final in Verona to get on the Champions League podium for the second time in the club’s history, after their bronze in 2003.
The French international setter spread Grupa Azoty’s offensive efforts nicely among all of his attackers to help convert a 34% excellent reception to a 52% excellent spiking on the way to a 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 20-25, 28-26) victory.
Three Polish international wing spikers reached the double digits in scoring, with outside Aleksander Sliwka leading the way on 18 points and earning the Most Valuable Player award. Opposite Lukasz Kaczmarek and outside Kamil Semeniuk added 15 points each. Semeniuk, who was included in the Polish national team roster for the first time ahead of the upcoming 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, scored two aces and three blocks, leading his team on both counts.
Dutch opposite Nimir Abdel-Aziz, who is also expected to make his VNL debut later this month, scored the match high of 21 points, including an ace and three stuffs, on Trentino’s side. His Brazilian teammate Ricardo Lucarelli scored 13 times, of which twice directly from the serving line, while Serbian star middle blocker Srecko Lisinac added another 11 points, including two blocks.
Main photo: Grupa Azoty’s libero Pawel Zatorski takes a memorable selfie with his teammates on top of the Champions League podium (source: cev.eu)
For more information, visit the official Super Finals website.
Previous article about the Champions League:
Egonu hammers 41 towards Imoco’s historic European title
FIVB Volleyball Nations League
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020