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Sole was one of the Argentine top scorers in the match v Poland

Lodz, Poland, June 24, 2016 - The world champions Poland started with a victory over Argentina in the first day of the FIVB Volleyball World League 2016 Group 1 tournament in Poland. The home team defeated the South Americans by 3-1 (26-24, 31-29, 36-38, 25-22), but only after an unusually long four-setter.

A well-known Polish warm atmosphere accompanied the very long first match of the hosts at Atlas Arena. The brightest star of the Friday evening was Bartosz Kurek, who showed his best in the first three sets and earned 21 points to his name. The best performance on the opposite side of the net was presented by Sebastian Sole, who scored 17 times by both spiking and blocking.

Poland has now won 19 of their 21 World League matches against Argentina.

Argentina opened the game well scoring two times, but their team captain Luciano De Cecco served into the net and delivered a first point to the hosts. A nervous start of Poland effected in a two-point gap (6-8) at the first technical time-out. Supporters in Lodz did not leave their heroes alone and Poland edged ahead 16-14. After some difficulties and a bumpy performance in the later stages of this part, coach Stephane Antiga’s players, led by Bartosz Kurek (5 points in set one), sealed the score at 26-24.

Set 2 began with a very efficient play on the visitors’ side. Highly motivated Albicelestes managed to get ahead of their rivals 11-6. Poland reactivated a moment later and reduced the gap to one point at 11-12 to Argentina. The home team kept the score tight and did not let the rivals enlarge the distance. A two point disadvantage forced Stephane Antiga to take a break and revive the team spirit. It worked. Poland handled the pressure and thanks to a mix of killing efficiency of Karol Klos and Bartosz Kurek won also the second set in a prolonged ending 31-29.

Artur Szalpuk, who entered the court in the previous set, started well in attack, but Sebastian Sole and his efforts in the middle led Argentina to 8-7 at the first technical time-out. The White-Reds with their crowd on the stands broke away with 16-14 and worked on producing the desired result. In the end Nicolas Bruno made a serving error, but Szalpuk did the same and Argentina tied at 24. A thrilling point-by-point pursuit continued and finally ended lucky for Julio Velasco’s team at 38-36.

With the troubles from the third set in mind, Poland opened strong with an 11-4 lead and tried to stay on track. Ezequiel Palacios started putting pressure with his serves and helped Argentina come back to the game reducing the gap to 11-7. Coach Antiga decided to replace Kurek with Dawid Konarski, but the Poles lost focus and were 15-16 behind at the second technical time-out. After the break the hosts claimed back the control (21-18) and forced the blue-shirted team to making mistakes. Pablo Crer’s serving fault resulted in the first match point for Poland, but Grzegorz Lomacz did the exact same thing a moment later. However, Dawid Konarski was on the right place and scored the final point for his team at 25-22.

Press Conference:

Stephane Antiga, coach of Poland: "This was a very long and hard match. We fought in every set. Of course we can play better, but today we made too many errors in serving. Our team captain, Michal Kubiak, did not play today, because he has a different training plan, but every player had a chance to play. I think in the next matches this weekend our game will look better than today."

Julio Velasco, coach of Argentina: "Congratulations to Poland! I think there were moments when we played on a similar level, but in the end Poland played better and made fewer mistakes. We need to concentrate on our winning mentality, because the beginning of the fourth set was not good. We won the third set and the next set was supposed to look better. I did not like our float reception and even if the serve is really good, we should receive it better."

Michal Kubiak, captain of Poland: "We are happy for the victory, especially here in front of our fans. Thank you for the congratulations, but it is history now, so we are thinking and concentrating only on the game against Russia tomorrow."

Luciano De Cecco, captain of Argentina: "I want to congratulate Poland's team, but also my teammates, because we played good volleyball tonight. I think this is the way to play better and better. We played on similar level as Poland, which is good."

Related information:

FIVB Volleyball World League 2016

FIVB Volleyball World League 2016 - Schedule

FIVB Volleyball World League 2016 - Teams

FIVB Volleyball World League 2016 - Media Guide