Volleyball superpower Slovenia is playing in Rome in the fourth semi-final of the last five European championships. The opponents are the world runners-up and winners of the League of Nations, the Poles, who were eliminated by the Slovenians in the last four European championships.
As many as 19 times the score was tied in the opening set. The Slovenians, who proved themselves with a fighting game, were very calm and made only four mistakes. On the other side, the Poles have as many as 12 of them, and this is exactly what tipped the scales in favor of the Slovenian side at the end of the set. Poland had a small initiative, but Cretu took control in time and stopped a small attack with a “timeout” at 14:12. Urnaut’s attack was then successful for 23:22, and after the tie, Huber sent the ball into the net while serving. Slovenia took advantage of the first final ball when Kochanowski put the ball over the Slovenian block, but it ended up out of bounds.
Three semi-finals, three wins
In 2015, they were better in the quarter-finals (3:2), in 2017 in the rematch for the quarter-finals (3:0), and in 2019 and 2021 in the semi-finals (both times with 3:1). This year, the two teams met twice. In the League of Nations in July in the Philippines, it was 3:2 for the Poles, and the Slovenians beat them in August at the last preparatory tournament before the European Championship, and at the Wagner Memorial in Krakow they were better with 3:0.
The Slovenians have always jumped over the semi-final hurdle at the European championships and ended up with a silver medal.
Poland is the first national team in the world strength ranking. A possible victory would count twice, as Slovenia would get a lot of points for the ranking, which, in the event of failure at the qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games in October in Japan, will play a decisive role for tickets to Paris 2024.
The Poles won all seven matches at this year’s EP. They dropped three sets, one each in the two elimination matches against Belgium and Serbia.
With 4.1 blocks per game, the Poles are the best team in this championship by leaps and bounds. They are also at the top in terms of the number of aces per set (1.9), while they have the second most accurate attack after the Italians (46%) with a success rate of 44%.
Thursday at 18:00:POLAND – SLOVENIA0:1 (-23, -, -)
At 21.15:ITALY – FRANCE
The final and third place match will be held on Saturday.