Walbrzych, Poland, June 11, 2018 - Coaches and captains of the national teams of the Dominican Republic, Japan, Russia and hosts Poland met with media representatives in Walbrzych, Poland prior to their last week of VNL Preliminary Round play. The team representatives received a very warm welcome from the city mayor Dr. Roman Szelemej, proving again that Walbrzych "lives and breathes" volleyball.
Marcos Kwiek, coach of the Dominican Republic said: "We are very happy to be here. It’s the end of the tournament and there are some players that already feel a little bit tired. My team is a very young group – we brought many new players here that we are looking to develop. This tournament will be a great chance to gain experience. Our goals here are to make our young players better, so when the opportunity arises, they can play at a high level. We know that fans in Poland understand volleyball and know what the top level of playing is."
Niverka Marte, captain of the Dominican Republic said: "I have been in Poland around five times and I am happy that I can be here again. Walbrzych is a wonderful city, especially since volleyball is treated here as something special. The atmosphere for play is great here. We have many young players in our squad and it will be a good experience for them to start in this kind of tournament."
Kumi Nakada, coach of Japan said: "All of the opponents here are very tough and they play on a level which we don’t have in Japan. On the other hand, if we can show our main strengths, which are not typical for them, we can play volleyball on equal terms and our games can be very interesting. It’s the first ever Volleyball Nations League. We've played for five weeks and have travelled a lot. In this formula it is hard to predict the players’ condition and that was our biggest struggle. For us the VNL has been very specific, because at the same time we need to get good results and also choose players for the World Championship in Japan. We still have a lot of ups and downs but it was a good time. Ai Kurogo is one of the highlights of the tournament for us. She is one of our younger players and she improved and grew very much during this competition."
Nana Iwasaka, captain of Japan said: "It's my second time in Poland - the first one was about five years ago when we played a friendly match with team Poland. I think it's difficult to play the hosts in the first match and on their ground but we want to be prepared and do our best to show our own volleyball, the way we play it. We would of course like to get a third victory in a row but our goal is to put everything we've done so far to work, to really show our own game and fight hard from the very first match."
Jacek Nawrocki, coach of Poland said: "Walbrzych is a city with volleyball traditions and it deserves to be a host of the Volleyball Nations League. In this tournament we will play with difficult opponents and each team has its own characteristics. Japan has many players in its squad and does a fantastic job in defensive play. Similar volleyball was presented by Thailand – we lost that game and we know that the match with Japan will be even harder. Russia, in contrast, has very offensive and physically strong players. Dominican Republic play another style of volleyball, similar to that of Cuba. However, many of the players from this team played in the European leagues and this helps them with tactical discipline. We will play our last game against them, so our mental condition will be a big factor."
Agnieszka Kąkolewska, captain of Poland said: "We have very big appetites after three wins in Bydgoszcz. However, we know that this tournament will be hard, because we will play against very strong teams. Dominican Republic, Japan and Russia are teams that don’t need a special introduction. I think that we should concentrate on our own play and this will produce a positive result. Every game will be tough, and we know that we need to be focused at all times."
Vadim Pankov, coach of Russia said: "Our main goal is to play in the Final Six tournament. Besides that, we want to gain experience and improve our play. We want to develop our skills and fight for win in every game. During the last weeks we were changing many players, because we are looking for stability in the squad which will be able to make us stronger and create a good score. After four weeks of playing we are happy that it is the end of long trips. We are glad that we don’t have to fly to Korea or China. In Poland for sure it will be an interesting tournament and we want to show beautiful volleyball."
Ekaterina Lyubushkina, captain of Russia said: "Walbrzych is a very peaceful city, which is good for concentration on our goals. It’s the last week of playing and I know that many of my teammates are feeling tired. Because of it, it’s good that we play here and have a chance to calm down and rest a little bit. However, this tournament won’t be easy. I think that the strongest teams here are us and Poland. The Dominican Republic present a good level of volleyball. Japan play another style and that’s why it is so hard to play against them. These games will for sure be interesting for us and for the supporters!"