Katowice, Poland, September 21, 2014 – Poland dethroned Brazil as monarchs of men’s volleyball with an epic victory in four sets (18-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-22) in front of a crowd of more than 12,000 spectators at Spodek Hall on Sunday.
Outside of the arena, located in the heart on the city of Katowice, around 15,000 followed the action showed on several giant screens.
In fact, more than a half million fans – 563,263 – watched the matches during the 18-day event, smashing the previous records in the competition. In Italy four years ago, the total was 339,324, while in Japan in 2006 it was 298,352.
• It was Poland’s seventh consecutive win, all of which came in at least four sets
• Poland compiled an 11-1 win-loss record during the tournament
• Brazil failed in their attempt to be the first nation to win four consecutive crowns
The victory of the home team put an end to the string of three consecutive titles won by Brazil starting in 2002 in Buenos Aires and continuing in 2006 in Japan and 2010 in Italy.
It was the second gold medal attained by Poland in the history of the event which was inaugurated in 1949, with the previous one accomplished forty years ago when competition took place in Mexico in 1974.
Poland also claimed the silver medal in 2006 when the quadrennial tournament was held in Japan. They lost 3-0 the final encounter with Brazil.
Poland became the fourth team in the history of the competition to be crowned at their own soil joining the Soviet Union (twice) and Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union won in Moscow in 1952 and 1962 while Czechoslovakia triumphed in Prague in 1966.
It was the second defeat of Brazil during the competition both at the hands of Poland with the previous one a 3-2 decision on September 16 during the third round. Poland's only loss in the event was in the second round against United States by 3-1 score.
Mateusz Mika led the victory with 22 points, followed by the consistent Mariusz Wlazly who contributed 14 points. Michal Winiarski and Piotr Nowakowski chipped in with 13 and 10, respectively.
Wallace de Souza and Ricarado Lucarelli Santos finished with 18 points apiece for Brazil, while Lucas Saatkamp added 15, including eight blocks.
The gold medal match opened with a fierce attitude from both sides. After great pass of aggressive Brazil’s serve, Poland were able to play a hard spike and Karol Klos put hosts 3-2 ahead. From that moment on, the Canarinhos started to run away. Double block and one efficient Lucarelli’s spike helped them to build an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout. An astonishing game with some marvellous digs finished by Mariusz Wlazly at 9-6 was enthusiastically experienced by almost 14,000 spectators gathered at Spodek Hall in Katowice. Due to their powerful serves, Brazil extended the distance to five points (13-8) and forced Stephane Antiga to call a timeout. Controlling the game, Brazil with the efficient block by Wallace and Lucas increased the distance to 18-11 ahead, putting big pressure on the host team. Going confidently to the late part of the set, Brazil finished it 25-18.
As host Poland regained focus, they built 2-0 advance at the beginning of the second set, after Piotr Nowakowski’s kill down the middle and double block by Nowakowski and Mateusz Mika. Efficient play in spikes followed by another fine block put Poland 4-1 ahead. Brazil’s Murilo finished a great attack but the host’s lead was kept (6-3). However, Lucarelli with his left-wing spike scored for a 7-7 evened score, making the second set as exciting as it could be. When Poland regained their dominance (10-7), Bernardo Rezende decided to stop fine serve series by Karol Klos, but pumping-up hosts didn’t stop- making a use of the opponent’s mistakes and playing well with blocks, they increased the leading to six points (17-11). When Bruno came at the serve line, Brazil started to catch up and did it effectively, as the scoreboards showed 17-17. From that moment, game continued on a point-by-point basis and they were Poland who managed to keep patience and finished the second set 25-22.
Continuing their way from the previous set, Poland built a 2-0 advantage at the beginning with their fine opposite and efficient blockers. After a fine Bruno’s dink and using some confusion on the Poland’s side, Brazil managed to catch up at 5-5, but the first technical timeout arrived with the white-and-reds 8-7 leading. The emotions that fulfilled Spodek Hall in the previous set were definitely taken to the third one as it was very balanced and tough as the gold medal match should be. With Winiarski and Wlazly on Poland’s wings against Wallace and Lucarelli of Brazil, the game was battled point-by-point and at 15-15 Wlazly’s kill put Poland 16-15 ahead. After a fine Wlazly’s block on Vissotto, at 18-16 Bernardo Rezende decided to call timeout. Vissotto’s and Lucarelli’s spikes followed by Wlazly’s mistake helped Brazil witch catching up at 23-23, but finally Poland won the third set 25-23 after Brazil’s attacking error.
It was a well balanced game during the beginning of the fourth set a result of great passing by both teams while displaying powerful serves almost all the time. At 5-5, Winiarski’s left-wing kill put the hosts one point ahead. Mateusz Mika’s mistake was followed by his fine spike that sent Poland to the lead at the first technical timeout. Their advantage grew to two points (11-9), however, two simple mistakes caused an even 11-11 and forced Poland’s coach to stop the winning streak of Brazil by calling a timeout. This short break helped the host team as they managed to jump 15-13 ahead after Mateusz Mika’s fine dink. After the second technical timeout, Brazil run away for two points (19-17), after a fine block of Lucas and Lucarelli. Poland with Michal Winiarski’s kill caught up at 21-21 and won the gold medal after the 25-22 score in the fourth set.