In four consecutive European championships, Slovenian volleyball players beat the Poles. Three times in the elimination fights, the last two even in the semi-finals, but this time they had to admit their superiority. “They played better than us,” admitted Tine Urnaut.
“They were more patient and took advantage of their opportunities. We played quite well in the block, in defense, we won a few counter-attacking opportunities, but if you are not constant in the “side out” and you don’t finish what you win, it just doesn’t work,” said the captain, and the blocker of the Slovenian national team, Alen Pajenk, also emphasized patience: “Our own mistakes, which we have already corrected in the past, have returned. Maybe we were a little too patient. Every time we played with their block and the ball came back to us, we got a point. That was not enough.”
Gregor Ropret’s unfortunate injury
The Poles were better with 3:1. Slovenia won the first set, but then the rivals took the initiative. With the result 1:1 in the sets and with a minimal Polish advantage, the silver defenders were left without the first passer Gregor Ropret, who unfortunately twisted his ankle while trying to block. Also, due to an ankle injury, Dejan Vinčić did not travel to the championship. The organization of the game was then taken over by Uroš Planinšič, who completed the task to the best of his abilities, but the difference was still noticeable.
“For sure, Gregor’s injury threw us out of some rhythm, but we have to admit that the Poles made the difference with their serve and block. They pressed really well and didn’t make many mistakes. Above all, they were more aggressive throughout the match,” said Klemen Čebulj and continued: “There was definitely a change. We really didn’t expect something like this. Unfortunately, the injury happened at the most ungrateful moment. We still have to congratulate Uroš. It wasn’t easy for him. He came into the game unexpectedly in such an important match. We helped each other, but The Poles were too strong.”
Leon played his match
With 15 points, Čebulj, together with Roko Možič, was the best in the Slovenian national team. On the other side, Wilfredo Leon shone, scoring 25.”We stopped him a few times. He really played his game.” Čebulj admitted, and Sebastijan Škorc said in the TV SLO studio about the game of the Cuban in the Polish jersey: “It’s hard to stop him when he’s playing like he is this time. He’s been good from the start. He hits balls high. When does he stop himself when he wants too much. This time in the playoffs he missed a few balls that were good. We didn’t think about him we didn’t do anything wrong. We set up a block, but he’s one of the best in the world. Because he makes a lot of mistakes, he’s not the best, but he’s one of them.”
“Leon played superbly. Especially when it was necessary. All the mistakes he made and the blocks when we caught him were at moments when Poland was already leading by three or four points. If it had been before , would be the second song with his final payoff. We did everything right, the block and the set-up on defense, but he really played great. Probably the best game of the European Championship,” added former national team player Mitja Gasparini in the studio.
Grbić: We would have won even if Ropret had not been injured
“The game was uncertain, which is what we expected, since there are four teams in the semifinals, each of which can beat each of them. The differences are small. One or two balls can decide the winner. That’s why we were nervous in the first set and made too many mistakes. We let Slovenia take the lead, but then we started to play much better. Ropret’s injury certainly helped us, because then it was easier to read the other passer and organize the block and defense. But this does not diminish the value of our victory. I am sure that we would have won even if Ropret had not been injured,” Polish coach Nikola Grbić, a legendary Serbian volleyball player, was satisfied.