Firstly, some contract news. Grzegorz Łomacz and Andrzej Wrona extended their contracts with Skra and Onico for 2 more years. Dawid Konarski did the same, but for 1 season.

The midweek games started with a battle between the 2 lowest ranked clubs in Plusliga, so MKS Będzin and Resovia Rzeszów (it still feels really weird). MKS was not decimated by injuries and flu, but they were playing without Guido Vermeulen, who was fired and left the team. So, his current replacement, Emil Siewiorek didn’t have a nice start. He started with a sick Lincoln Williams (flu) and Jake Langlois as a middle blocker (because only 1 was fit). Resovia also had to deal with 1 absence, but it wasn’t a player. Gheorghe Cretu didn’t travel with the team, because he was/is also sick. His team started with only 1 change compared to the previous starting lineup, Rafał Buszek replaced Mateusz Mika. This match didn’t start well for Resovia though. They struggled with their spiking (only 30% kills and 9% efficiency) in the first set, while Lincoln Williams was on fire, scored 12 points and single-handedly gave MKS 1:0 lead after 1st set.

But his sickness slowly started to get to Australian opposite, who couldn’t keep playing like that and his effectiveness started to drop. Meanwhile, Resovia somehow started to make fewer errors, improved their blocking and spiking a bit and that was enough to give guests easy victory in 2nd set and 1:1 score.

The 3rd set was almost the same, Williams was changed after losing his effectiveness completely and Resovia basically executed Będzin during this set. MKS had nothing to lose and Emil Siewiorek made some further changes (Faryna and Fornal replaced Williams and Buchowski) and it worked. The match was no longer onesided. The home team was leading 21:20, but wasted their chances, made a lot of errors and David Smith finished the game a few moments later.

It wasn’t a good match, both teams looked bad, but in the end, Resovia won for the first time in 2019. MVP went to Thibault Rossard, who was the best player of this game for sure. 20 points, 2 blocks, 1 ace, solid spiking (50% kills, 41% efficiency) and good reception (67% positive and 33% perfect, 0 errors). The difference between Thibault from the previous match (against Zawiercie) and this one is huge. But the other players didn’t look good. An unusually bad Smith (6 points, 2 blocks, 1 ace, 43% kills) and Schulz (11 points, 3 blocks, 36% kills), a terrible Masłowski (28 receptions, 2 errors, 32% positive and 18% perfect). Lincoln Williams finished with 15 points, after going mad in the 1st set (12 points, 3 aces, 1 block, 50% kills), but losing his effectiveness in next 2 sets, probably due to his sickness. Michał Potera (18 receptions, 0 errors, 67% positive, 17% perfect) and Lukas Tichacek were satisfactory. Also, I guess Jake Langlois did okay for an outside playing as a middle (9 points, 1 block, 50% kills).

The next match took place in famous Spodek Arena, in Katowice, where GKS was visited by Onico Warszawa. This game didn’t begin well for the home team. Antoine Brizard instantly gave his team their first lead after an ace, then he continued to serve with a lot of power and GKS had a ton of problems with their reception. The result? Onico went up 5:0. The home team couldn’t catch their opponents and after Kwolek finished one of the longer rallies, they were losing 14:9. But this is when they answered with good services, block-defense system finally started to work like Piotr Gruszka planned and GKS started to come back and Stephane Antiga was forced to ask for a timeout (14:12), which didn’t help, because in a few moments Onico was only 1 point ahead (15:14). Then Graham Vigrass went to serve, ace and 2 monster blocks (by Kurek and Łukasik) later the score was 19:14. Onico was back in the driving seat and finished this set 25:22.

The second set was much more competitive. It might have something to do with Karol Butryn returning to his normal self after being… Onico’s top scorer in 1st set. In this set there was a lot of rallies, Tomas Rousseaux was super effective, but so was Piotr Łukasik. Onico went up 21:20 after Kurek’s ace, but after GKS blocked the Polish opposite they were back in the lead. The home team needed only 2 setballs to win this set, and the deciding ball found its way to Tomas Rousseaux and he took a risk and scored a point, which gave his team a victory in the 2nd set. Sadly, GKS couldn’t challenge in the following sets, while Butryn came back to his normal level, while Warszawa had no problems with improving their performance, especially after Andrzej Wrona replaced Jan Nowakowski.

Two following sets were easily controlled by Onico Warszawa and the match finished 3:1. MVP went to Bartosz Kurek (23 points, 4 blocks, 3 aces, 46% kills), who might not have been super impressive with his spiking (just 29% efficiency), but his block was insanely effective, service caused a lot of problems, Bartek scored 12 breakpoints (out of 30 scored by whole Onico) and was the top scorer, so it is not surprising. Piotr Łukasik performed really well too. 17 points scored (3 blocks, 58% kills) and offense are not surprising, but only 1 reception error with 53% positive and 40% perfect (out of 15) is a lot better than expected. Another quality game be Vigrass (13 points, 2 blocks, 2 aces, 64% kills) and Kwolek (9 points, 45% kills, but 34 receptions, 59% positive and 35% perfect), who helped Łukasik massively together with Damian Wojtaszek (13 receptions, 1 error, 62% positive, 38% perfect). 3 names from GKS stood out in this match. Bartłomiej Krulicki (11 points, 3 blocks, 73% kills), Karol Butryn (17 points, 1 block, 2 aces, 47% kills), who recovered nicely after a tragic 1st set and Tomas Rousseaux (17 points, 2 blocks, 1 ace, 50% kills), who had a fantastic 2 sets in the beggining (11 points, 1 block, 67% kills), but tragic 4th set, which gave only pretty good stats for whole match.

The next game was Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle vs Indykpol AZS Olsztyn. Zaksa started this match without Sam Deroo (still injured) and Mateusz Bieniek (he is okay, he was on the bench), while Michał Gogol had all his players at his disposal and started with a lineup that defeated Skra a few days earlier. The first set went just like it was expected to go, Zaksa controlled the game and easily won 25:18.

But the next one is another story. This time both teams couldn’t build a lead and we reached the 30s. Toniutti relied on Kaczmarek (22 attacks in 2nd set), while Paweł Woicki distributed the ball more evenly, but passed to Pietraszko (8 hits, 88% kills in 2nd set), who was super effective. The whole set was finished by Jan Hadrava with an ace. This probably motivated Zaksa to play better and that’s what they did.

In the following 2 sets they gave AZS no chance. Kaczmarek (12 points and 92% kills in 3rd and 4th set combined) was a man on a mission, but the whole team was spiking insanely well (68% kills in 3rd set, 71% in 4th). Looking at the whole game, it was another great offensive performance by Śliwka (22 points, 65% kills) with defense as good as usual (31 receptions, 4 errors, 58% positive, 35% perfect). With the addition of very solid Szymura (12 points, 1 block, 2 aces, 50% kills), a very good Kaczmarek (25 points, 60% kills), an even worse performances by the middles (18 points, 4 blocks, 2 aces, 55% kills) didn’t matter. MVP went to Paweł Zatorski for ridiculously good reception stats (18 balls received, 0 errors, 72% positive, 50% perfect). Indykpol lost, but there is a lot of positives for their fans. Jan Hadrava finally looked really, really good (21 points, 1 ace, 56% kills), Marcel Lux (16 points, 43% kills) finally is playing at okay level and team doesn’t rely as heavily as they did on Hadrava and Paweł Pietraszko (15 points, 1 block, 3 aces, 73% kills) was fantastic. That’s a lot of good signs for future and their play-off chances are rising.

The next game was the match of the day (at least on paper) between PGE Skra Bełchatów and Jastrzębski Węgiel. Even though Skra was still without Szalpuk, Ebadipour and Wlazły and Jastrzębski was favorite to win, the game was in Bełchatów, so home team should at least fight and make it hard for guests. In the first set, Skra had 2 solid leads (10:7 and 13:10), but blew them immediately and this set reached 23:23. The first team with a setball was Jastrzębski, but Skra defended against the 1st and 2nd setball. Third time was a charm this time and after block on Milan Katić meant the guests were leading 1:0.

Luckily, Skra was not done, didn’t collapse (like they did in Olsztyn in the previous game) and was still fighting. After a block on Konarski (who was replaced by Bucki moments later), they were leading 9:6. Another good block, this time on Bucki, followed by Kochanowski’s ace and Skra went up 16:11. They kept this lead till the end of the set and won 25:20. Roberto Santili didn’t go back to the starting lineup and kept Bucki and Ferens on the court.

In the 3rd set things got even more interesting, Jastrzębski began well by instantly going up 7:3 , they stayed ahead for some time, but finally, Skra managed to stop one of Bucki’s attacks, Teppan followed with an ace and score was 13:13. From that point Skra was leading, they even increased their lead to 2 points in key part of the set (23:21), but that’s when Jakub Bucki answered. One good hit, ace and teams were even (23:23). A time-out called by Piazza didn’t stop Bucki, who served well and his team had a chance to counter and didn’t waste it. The first setball to Jastrzębski and Bucki ended the set with an ace, he was on fire in this set (12 points, 2 aces, 91% kills) and led his team to victory in 3rd set.

In the following set, Skra was the first team to gain a lead, after Ferens made an error and Bucki was blocked, the score was 14:11. It didn’t last long though. An ace by Bucki, a spike by Lyneel and the scoreboard was showing 19:19. When Skra went up 23:21, it looked like tie-break is coming. They had a chance to score their 24th immediately after, but Droszyński made a stupid error (terrible pass) and the point went to the guests. Bucki was still fairly effective, but the last part of the 4th set was the Lyneel show, as he finished key attacks in this set and led Jastrzębski to 3:1 victory.

While the game was really exciting, the level of this match was not amazing. MVP went to Jakub Bucki (21 points, 3 aces, 72% kills) and it couldn’t go anywhere else. Fromm (7 points, 44% kills, but -1 ratio) and Konarski (7 points, 2 blocks, 29% kills) were bad once again. Julien Lyneel was great (19 points, 2 blocks, 1 ace, 52% kills + great reception). Ferens did okay (5 points, 45% kills), but Kosok (4 points, 1 block, 27% kills) was awful, Kampa also didn’t impress, but Jakub Popiwczak did well (31 receptions, 1 error, 61% positive, 32% perfect). So, if Bucki and Lyneel beat Skra by themselves, what happened there? Well, Kochanowski was worse than he usually is (10 points, 2 blocks, 2 aces, 40% kills), it might have something to do with Łomacz playing as much through the middle as he could. Karol Kłos played well (14 points, 3 blocks, 2 aces, 64% kills) and Grzegorz Łomacz did what he could, but it wasn’t a lot. Bad reception (33% positive, 12% perfect) by the whole team definitely didn’t help him. Piechocki was slow (30 receptions, 3 errors, 30% positive, 16% perfect), Katić in defense was even worse (20 balls received, 1 error, 20% positive, 0% perfect) and only Orczyk was okay in this element (31 receptions, 0 errors, 45% positive and 16% perfect). But then we look at offense and Orczyk was tragic (14 points, 5 blocks, 3 aces, but only 29% kills), Katic was solid (17 points, 1 block, 2 aces, 48% kills) and Teppan was average (17 points, 1 block, 1 ace, 43% kills, 26% efficiency). Skra still has a lot of problems and only a poor performance from Jastrzębski made this match pretty even.

The Final game was between Cerrad Czarni Radom and Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie, so the 4th and 5th team in the league table. A very important match for both teams and for the play-off race. The first set wasn’t really interesting or exciting. Czarni were leading, made less errors and won without many problems. In the 2nd Zawiercie answered and massacred the home team with their service (8 aces) and after 2 sets the score was 1:1.

In the 3rd set, the match finally evened out. The score was a lot closer and there was more fighting and emotions. An impasse was broken by Grzegorz Bociek and his service. Rejno added a block and Warta was leading 21:18. But Fornal and Zhigalov led Cerrad to quick recovery and 22:22 score. Zawiercie was the first team to get setball, but Czarni defended and 2 attacks by Żaliński followed and gave the home team victory in 3rd set and 2:1 lead.

The 4th set was very similar to 3rd one. Once again neither of teams could get ahead and they reached final part of this set with even score. This time Kamil Semeniuk was player that gave his team the lead after a successful spike (23:22) he added an ace (24:22) and Aluron had a great chance to even the score and force a tie-break. Czarni easily defended against 1st setball with a successful attack, but their situation still wasn’t perfect. Warta had a perfect opportunity after a great reception, Masny passed to Bociek, who had only Tomasz Fornal trying to block him and… he hit right into his hands (24:24). Zawiercie had 4 more setballs, but couldn’t finish the set, then Bociek was blocked again (29:28), this time by Żaliński, Masny passed to Bociek again and his out spike finished the whole game.

MVP went to Żaliński (21 points, 3 aces, 72% kills), who was the best player on the court in this match. This time Michał Filip disappointed (4 points, 1 block, 1 ace, 18% kills), but Maxim Zhigalov failed to impress (10 points, 1 block, 1 ace, 38% kills) and wasted his chance to take the starting spot back from Filip. Tomasz Fornal did fine (18 points, 3 blocks, 3 aces, 46% kills) and finally Alen Pajenk played well (10 points, 2 blocks, 1 ace, 64% kills), but he still can play better than that. Looking at Warta Zawiercie, Rejno was once again good (11 points, 3 blocks, 2 aces, 60% kills), unlike Gawryszewski (6 points, 1 block, 1 ace, 40% kills). Semeniuk (15 points, 1 block, 2 aces, 48% kills) and Ferreira (14 points, 2 blocks, 2 aces, 42% kills) did okay, but Michał Masny made some weird choices and passed to Bociek too often and it cost his team quite a lot, because Grzegorz looked tired in the final parts of this match. Bociek scored a lot (26 points, 2 blocks, 5 aces, 40% kills), but spiked a lot too (47 times, Semeniuk and Ferreira attacked 49 times combined) and it definitely affected his efficiency (only 15%, 5 errors and blocked 7 times). Overall he played well, but failed to score when it mattered the most, even though Masny should be partially blamed for that too.

MKS Będzin 1:3 Asseco Resovia Rzeszów

25:22, 15:25, 15:25, 23:25

MKS: Ratajczak (8), Peszko (9), Langlois (9), Williams (15), Buchowski (3), Tichacek (1), Potera (libero) and Fornal (2), Faryna (7), Gregorowicz (libero)

Resovia: Kozub (3), Schulz (11), Rossard (20), Buszek (13), Możdżonek (8), Smith (6), Masłowski (libero) and Perłowski

MVP: Thibault Rossard

GKS Katowice 1:3 Onico Warszawa

22:25, 26:24, 18:25, 15:25

GKS: Krulicki (11), Butryn (16), Komenda (2), Rousseaux (17), Quiroga (5), Kohut (7), Mariański (libero) and Depowski (1), Fijałek, Sobala (1), Sobański (1), Krzysiek

Onico: Kwolek (10), Brizard (6), Łukasik (16), Vigrass (13), Kurek (25), Nowakowski (1), Wojtaszek (libero) and Kowalczyk (1), Buczek (1), Wrona (4), Penchev

MVP: Bartosz Kurek

Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle 3:1 Indykpol AZS Olsztyn

25:18, 33:35, 25:20, 25:22

Zaksa: Kaczmarek (25), Toniutti (2), Wiśniewski (9), Śliwka (22), Szymura (12), Kalembka (9), Zatorski (libero) and Stępień, Shaw, Koppers (2)

AZS: Hadrava (21), Lux (16), Zniszczoł (8), Andringa (10), Pietraszko (15), Woicki, Żurek (libero) and Kańczok (2), Gil, Warda (1)

MVP: Paweł Zatorski

PGE Skra Bełchatów 1:3 Jastrzębski Węgiel

25:27, 25:20, 23:25, 27:29

Skra: Teppan (17), Kłos (14), Kochanowski (10), Katić (17), Łomacz (1), Orczyk (14), Piechocki (libero) and Droszyński, Wlazły, Milczarek

JW: Fromm (7), Kosok (4), Konarski (7), Lyneel (19), Gunia (5), Kampa (1), Popiwczak (libero) and Bucki (21), Ferens (5)

MVP: Jakub Bucki

Cerrad Czarni Radom 3:1 Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie

25:21, 19:25, 26:24, 30:28

Czarni: Pajenk (10), Żaliński (21), Vincic (4), Filip (4), Huber (6), Fornal (18), Ruciak (libero) and Ostrowski, Zhigalov (10), Kwasowski, Wasilewski (libero)

Warta: Rejno (11), Ferreira (14), Gawryszewski (6), Bociek (26), Semeniuk (15), Masny (2), Koga (libero) and Waliński, Dosanjh, Malinowski

MVP: Wojciech Żaliński

League table:

1. Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle 15G, 15W-0L, 44p

2. Onico Warszawa 17G, 13W-4L, 38p

3. Jastrzębski Węgiel 16G, 13W-3L, 37p

4. Cerrad Czarni Radom 17G, 11W-6L, 32p

5. Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie 18G, 11W-7L, 30p

6. PGE Skra Bełchatów 16G, 8W-8L, 24p

  1. GKS Katowice 18G, 8W-10L, 24p
  2. Indykpol AZS Olsztyn 17G, 6W-11L, 21p
  3. Trefl Gdańsk 14G, 6W-8L, 18p
  4. Asseco Resovia Rzeszów 16G, 5W-11L, 17p
  5. Chemik Bydgoszcz 17G, 5W-12L, 16p
  6. Cuprum Lubin 16G, 5W-11L, 14p
  7. MKS Będzin 17G, 1W-16L, 6p

Top scorer:

  1. Karol Butryn – 328
  2. Jan Hadrava – 322
  3. Maciej Muzaj – 305
  4. Tomas Rousseaux – 280
  5. Lincoln Williams – 280

Most aces:

  1. Karol Butryn – 35
  2. Jan Hadrava – 35
  3. Bartosz Kwolek – 34

Most blocks:

  1. Grzegorz Kosok – 44
  2. Maxim Morozau – 44
  3. Andrzej Wrona – 41

Highest % positive reception:

  1. Paweł Zatorski – 58%
  2. Michał Potera – 54%
  3. Sam Deroo – 53%

Next matches:

Jastrzębski Węgiel vs Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle

Cuprum Lubin vs MKS Będzin

Asseco Resovia Rzeszów vs PGE Skra Bełchatów

Indykpol AZS Olsztyn vs Trefl Gdańsk

Cerrad Czarni Radom vs Chemik Bydgoszcz

Another really interesting round of games. Rematch for Polish cup first. Then, battle of two gaints in Rzeszów, both in deep crisi. This match might be important for play-off battle than expected, especially few weeks ago. Then AZS against Trefl, another very important game for play-off race.

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