By Adanoos

One more confirmed transfer. Lincoln Williams left MKS Będzin and joined Jugra Samotłor Niżniewartowsk (Югра-Самотлор Нижневартовск) in the Russian League. It’s heavily rumoured that Mateusz Bieniek will move to Lube Civitanova. A lot of activity in the coaches transfer market, after Andrea Anastasi, who supposedly joins Onico Warszawa next season (it is not official, but everyone knows he will go there), Resovia wants to sign Piotr Gruszka to be their coach next season, while PGE Skra Bełchatów is going to get Michał Gogol, but both moves are not confirmed. Besides that, Piotr Nowakowski will probably follow Anastasti and move to Warszawa, Thibault Rossard has more than one offer from top Polish clubs too, and Milad Ebadipour should extend his contract with Skra soon.

This time the Plusliga started in Warszawa, where Onico was visited by MKS Będzin. No surprises there, it was an easy win for the home team, Łukasik and Kurek left the court during 2nd set and didn’t come back, Graham Vigrass didn’t play at all (he was ready to play though). Stephane Antiga gave some playtime to Jan Nowakowski, Penchev and Araujo. MVP went to Andrzej Wrona (11 points, 5 blocks, 86% kills). Kwolek was really good too (15 points, 1 block, 4 aces, 83% kills), just like Kurek (9 points, 1 ace, 73% kills). Rafał Faryna replaced Lincoln Williams pretty well, 14 points with 62% kills are respectable numbers. Jan Fornal didn’t waste his chance (12 points, 2 aces, 59% kills), even though he had some reception problems (4 errors and only 39% positive).

Next, the struggling Chemik Bydgoszcz (6 loses in a row) was visited by Indykpol AZS Olsztyn. In the first set AZS was wasting chances (only 32% kills), made a lot of errors (10) and Chemik easily won the set 25:20. The game did a 180 in the second set, Chemik lost their effectiveness, got blocked a lot (5 blocks in favor of Indykpol), while Olsztyn led by fantastic Hadrava (10 points and 82% kills in this set) and won the 2nd set 25:19 and equalized the score. The 3rd set began well for Chemik, they were slowly building their lead, but when the score reached 15:10, they started to have some problems with their hitting (especially Lipiński), while Hadrava was scoring and soon Indykpol equalized (15:15). Moments later AZS was leading 17:16 and Jakub Bednaruk took his 2nd timeout. It worked wonderfully because the home team was back in the driver’s seat instantly and led 20:17. They increased their lead to 4 points later (24:20), but the situation got nervous when Pietraszko went to serve (24:23), but Kovacevic finished the set 25:23.

In the 4th set, Hadrava started to lose effectiveness even more, while Filipiak finally started to score (10 points and 71% kills in that set), which is why Chemik could finally celebrate another victory and 3 points added in the standings. MVP went to Vinhedo, who played a really good game and I cannot say a bad word about this decision. It’s worth mentioning good performances by Morozau (10 points, 3 blocks, 70% kills), Filipiak (21 points, 1 block, 2 aces, 51% kills) and Kovacevic (18 points, 1 block, 57% kills). Looking at AZS, once again Paweł Pietraszko proved his worth to the team (11 points, 2 blocks, 3 aces, 67% kills), Jan Hadrava was the top scorer once more (22 points, 2 blocks, 2 aces, 45% kills), but Woicki, Lux (subbed off in 1st set), Zniszczoł (8 points, 2 blocks, 40% kills) and Andringa (8 points, 1 block, 37% kills, 6% efficiency) disappointed. Even a solid sub from Kapelus (13 points, 1 block, 52% kills) didn’t help.

There is this saying: “History likes to repeat itself”. Well, the match in Kędzierzyn-Koźle showed why this saying exists. Last season Zaksa’s winning spree was stopped in Kędzierzyn-Koźle by Resovia after 17 games. This time Resovia stopped Zaksa after 16 victories. It was also a surprisingly one-sided match. Zaksa was close to winning only in the 2nd set, but after a challenge, the score was not 22:22, but 23:21 in favor of Resovia, because Paweł Zatorski stepped on the attack line while setting the ball to Shaw. It completely killed Zaksa’s momentum and Resovia closed the set easily (25:21).

To be fair, Rzeszów played well, probably their best match this season, but Zaksa was also unusually poor (39% kills, only 22% efficiency + 11 service errors with 0 aces). Only Mateusz Bieniek (7 points, 78% kills) played his normal level. Both Zatorski and Toniutti made more errors than they normally do, while other 4 starting players underperformed massively. Szymura and Kaczmarek finished with 33% kills and only 19% efficiency, Łukasz Wiśniewski couldn’t score the ball and ended with only 31% kills and 8% efficiency, while Śliwka, who was the only one trying to fight, also finished with 32% kills. Meanwhile Resovia finally found their starting lineup. Buszek was very solid (11 points, 1 block, 50% kills), Rossard was very good (10 points, 1 block, 47% kills) and his reception was great (18 balls received, 72% positive reception and 33% perfect). Jakub Jarosz did his job well (14 points, 1 block, 50% kills), Możdżonek terrorised Zaksa attackers with his fantastic block (10 points, 4 blocks, 50% kills). I don’t know who was deciding where MVP award goes, but he must be blind or didn’t watch the game, because it went to Kawika Shoji, who was not a star of a show. While his defense, block and service is good, his setting was average at best. Buszek and Możdżonek (for reception and block respectively) deserved it a lot more.

The next match started in unexpected fashion too. Even though Dejan Vincic had to leave the court due to injury (nothing serious), no one expected GKS Katowice to completely destroy Czarni Radom in the first 2 sets (to 15 and 17). But Cerrad started 3rd set without Fornal and Filip (replaced by Zhigalov and Kwasowski) and game became a lot closer. This time the Russian opposite was not wasting his chance and single-handedly was keeping the score close. GKS had a solid lead (19:15), but stopped getting kills with their hits for a moment and Cerrad (mostly Zhigalov) made the best of this opportunity and came back (19:18) and even took the lead moments later (21:22), but was lost immediately (23:22). From that moment neither of teams could score a breakpoint, GKS wasted setball after setball, until Rafał Sobański went to service (2nd time) and served an ace which finished the game and made play-off race even more interesting.

Rousseaux was fantastic (17 points, 2 aces, 54% kills and +16 ratio) and Krzysiek (14 points, 4 blocks, 50% kills) led GKS to 3:0 win, with MVP going to Krzysiek. Another good game played by Marcin Komenda is worth noticing. Michał Filip (10 points, 2 blocks, 1 ace, 39% kills, 0% efficiency) and Tomasz Fornal (2 points, 50% kills, 0% efficiency and only 33% positive reception) disappointed massively, Żaliński (11 points, 46% kills) didn’t impress either, just like both middles (8 points, 1 block, 54% kills). Only Maxim Zhigalov played really well (12 points, 60% kills, all in last set), but that was not enough.

In next game, Trefl Gdańsk, without Nikola Mijailovic was facing Jastrzębski Węgiel. The first set couldn’t start in a worse way for Trefl. Konarski’s hit and block on Muzaj was followed by 3 reception errors by Schott (or 3 aces by Kosok) and score was 5:0. After Hain and Fromm added 2 more aces (one on Schott, one on Hebda), the German player was replaced by Szymon Jakubiszak, but Jastrzębski was leading 12:5. After this sub Trefl started to finally play like a Plusliga team and even improved the score by quite a bit (21:18 after Jakubiszak scored with a successful block), but Fromm and Konarski stayed effective and their team won 25:20.

The second set started more evenly, but after Ferens made an error and Muzaj followed with a block, Trefl (without Schott) was leading 16:12. Muzaj added a good hit in transition, Niemiec served an ace and the score was 21:15. 2 more blocks by Trefl (Muzaj and Jakubiszak) and the home team won the 2nd set 25:19.

But the 3rd set started in a similar way to the first one. After Muzaj hit the ball out (2:0), Trefl started to struggle, good counters followed, then Kampa added 2 blocks in a row and soon score was 9:2 in favor of the guests. That 7 points gap quickly got smaller (13:10), but instantly widened again (15:10). Then it happened again (16:13, 19:14), but the 3rd time was a charm, because after Janusz scored with a block (20:17), Trefl didn’t let Jastrzębski run away again, started to defend well and Jakubiszak with Muzaj finished next 3 actions with great hits and score was 20:20. When it was 22:21, Muzaj spiked out after insane rally and Jastrzębski didn’t waste their opportunity and won the set 25:22.

The 4th set was a 3rd great start for Jastrebski. After Konarski’s block (4:1) Andrea Anastasi changed setters (Kozłowski for Janusz) and this time the gap didn’t grow as quickly as it did in 1st and 3rd set. But Jastrzębski was increasing their lead this time, after Konarski’s ace it was 8:4, after Muzaj’s error their lead grew to 12:6. But then Hain’s service gave Trefl their 7th point and the best rally of this round followed (if you are patient enough to watch a 30-second ad: and Trefl was back in the game (12:8). It took the home team some time to close the gap, but blocks by Schott and Niemiec gave their team the first draw in this set (22:22). First, Jastrzębski wasted 2 set balls, then Trefl had their chance after Lyneel spiked out, but Jastrzębski equalized (26:26), Lyneel blocked Muzaj and Kampa finished the whole match with an ace.

It was a pretty good game with a lot of rallies and spikes (120 by Trefl, 137 by Jastrzębski). MVP went to Dawid Konarski (25 points, 2 blocks, 1 ace, 47% kills), who attacked 47 times in this match. This time Julien Lyneel (13 points, 1 block, 2 aces, 36% kills) didn’t impress, just like Christian Fromm (17 points, 3 blocks, 1 ace, 36% kills), so good performance by Konarski probably saved a lot of points in the standings for Jastrzębski. Maciej Muzaj was once again hitting a lot (50), but his performance wasn’t great (22 points, 3 blocks, 38% kills, 12% efficiency). Piotr Nowakowski also had a lot of problems with getting kills (only 38%), so the very solid Jakubiszak (15 points, 3 blocks, 48% kills) and okay (for 3 sets) Hebda (11 points, 3 blocks, 52% kills) were keeping Trefl in the game.

The last game was also important for the playoff race. PGE Skra Bełchatów was visited by Cuprum Lubin without Masahiro Yanagida. Skra, still without Szalpuk and Wlazły, but with Milad Ebadipour on the bench, once again played really well in the first set. Teppan and the middles were effective and with the addition of 4 blocks, the home team won the first set 25:20. In the 2nd set, Cuprum improved, while Renee Teppan’s effectiveness dropped a bit and neither Katic, nor Orczyk made up for that. Finally, when the score was 14:9, Roberto Piazza run out of patience and Ebadipour replaced Orczyk. Skra started to improve their score and after Katic finished one of rallies with a good hit (22:21), it looked like they might even win this set. But Cuprum scored their point and Damian Boruch followed it up with 2 aces and finished 2nd set.

Even though Milad Ebadipour stayed on the court, Skra didn’t start well. The guests immediately took the lead and went up 9:4, but when the score was 11:7, Cuprum collapsed. They started to make error after error and soon Skra was leading 14:11. Change of setter and good services by Smith helped (15:15), but only for a moment (18:16). Whenever the team from Lubin could equalize, they made a mistake and those errors gave Skra 3rd set (25:21). The 4th set was one-sided and easily won by Skra, Ebadipour and Teppan were very effective, just like both middles and Cuprum had no answers.

MVP went to Kuba Kochanowski (14 points, 3 blocks, 1 ace, 67% kills), but Renee Teppan (21 points, 4 blocks, 1 ace, 57% kills) could have easily got this one too. A solid Łomacz and Kłos (8 points, 1 block, 1 ace, 67% kills) did their job. Milad Ebadipour had okay comeback, good in offense (9 points, 2 blocks, 50% kills), but bad in defense (9 receptions, 4 errors, 22% positive, 11% perfect). Orczyk (1 point, 17% kills, -3 ratio) and Katic (5 points, 26% kills, 0% efficiency, -4 ratio) were terrible. Looking at Cuprum, only Gruszczyński (19 receptions, 49% positive, 21% perfect), Ziobrowski (18 points, 1 block, 47% kills), Smoliński (12 points, 3 blocks, 2 aces, 78% kills) and maybe Boruch (9 points, 2 blocks, 4 aces, but only 30% kills) played well. Luke Smith (10 points, 1 block, 2 aces, 35% kills) was worse than usual and Grobelny (9 points, 1 block, 36% kills) didn’t replace Yanagida well enough.

Onico Warszawa 3:0 MKS Będzin

25:22, 25:20, 25:22

Onico: Brizard (2), Kwolek (15), Nowakowski (5), Kurek (9), Łukasik (4), Wrona (11), Wojtaszek (libero) and Janikowski, Araujo (6), Penchev (2), Kowalczyk

MKS: Tichacek (1), Fornal (12), Ratajczak (4), Faryna (14), Buchowski (3), Langlois (8), Potera (libero) and Kowalski

MVP: Andrzej Wrona

Chemik Bydgoszcz 3:1 Indykpol AZS Olsztyn

25:19, 20:25, 25:23, 25:20

Chemik: Vinhedo (2), Lipiński (12), Siwicki (4), Filipiak (21), Kovacevic (18), Morozau (10), Kowalski (liber) and Gryc, Karakuła, Bobrowski

AZS: Woicki, Andringa (8), Pietraszko (11), Hadrava (22), Lux (3), Zniszczoł (8), Żurek (libero) and Kapelus (13), Kańczok (2), Gil

MVP: Vinhedo

Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle 0:3 Asseco Resovia Rzeszów

17:25, 21:25, 21:25

Zaksa: Toniutti (1), Śliwka (9), Wiśniewski (7), Kaczmarek (8), Szymura (8), Bieniek (7), Zatorski (libero) and Stępień, Shaw (2), Koppers, K. Szymura (libero), Kalembka

Resovia: Shoji (2), Rossard (10), Smith (7), Jarosz (14), Buszek (11), Możdżonek (10), Masłowski (libero), Perry (libero) and Schulz

MVP: Kawika Shoji

GKS Katowice 3:0 Cerrad Czarni Radom

25:15, 25:17, 31:29

GKS: Komenda (3), Rousseaux (17), Krulicki (4), Krzysiek (14), Sobański (10), Kohut (8), Mariański (libero) and Sobala, Fijałek, Butryn, Woch

Cerrad: Vincic, Żaliński (11), Pajenk (5), Filip (10), Fornal (2), Huber (3), Ruciak (libero) and Giger, Kwasowski (6), Rybicki, Ostrowski, Zhigalov (12), Wasilewski (libero)

MVP: Bartosz Krzysiek

Trefl Gdańsk 1:3 Jastrzębski Węgiel

20:25, 25:19, 22:25, 26:28

Trefl: Janusz (2), Schott (5), Nowakowski (7), Muzaj (22), Hebda (11), Niemiec (9), Olenderek (libero) and Jakubiszak (15), Kozłowski (1)

JW: Kampa (5), Lyneel (13), Kosok (12), Konarski (25), Fromm (17), Hain (6), Popiwczak (libero) and Rusek, Ferens

MVP: Dawid Konarski

PGE Skra Bełchatów 3:1 Cuprum Lubin

Skra: Łomacz (1), Katic (5), Kochanowski (14), Teppan (21), Orczyk (1), Kłos (8), Piechocki (libero) and Droszyński, Węgrzyn, Ebadipour (9)

Cuprum: Gorzkiewicz (1), Grobelny (9), Boruch (9), Ziobrowski (18), Smith (10), Smoliński (12), Gruszczyński (libero) and Toobal, Patucha (1), Wachnik (1), Biegun (2), Marcyniak

MVP: Jakub Kochanowski

League table:

1. Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle 17G, 16W-1L, 14p

2. Onico Warszawa 18G, 14W-4L, 41p

3. Jastrzębski Węgiel 18G, 14W-4L, 40p

4. Cerrad Czarni Radom 19G, 12W-7L, 35p

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

6. PGE Skra Bełchatów 18G, 9W-9L, 27p

  1. GKS Katowice 19G, 9W-10L, 27p
  2. Asseco Resovia Rzeszów 18G, 7W-11L, 23p
  3. Indykpol AZS Olsztyn 19G, 6W-13L, 22p
  4. Trefl Gdańsk 16G, 7W-9L, 20p
  5. Chemik Bydgoszcz 19G, 6W-13L, 19p
  6. Cuprum Lubin 18G, 6W-12L, 17p
  7. MKS Będzin 19G, 1W-18L, 6p

Top scorers:

  1. Jan Hadrava – 360
  2. Maciej Muzaj – 355
  3. Karol Butryn – 329
  4. Bartosz Filipiak – 304
  5. Tomas Rousseaux – 302

Most aces:

  1. Bartosz Kwolek – 38
  2. Jan Hadrava – 38
  3. Karol Butryn – 35

Most blocks:

  1. Maxim Morozau – 51
  2. Grzegorz Kosok – 49
  3. Andrzej Wrona – 46

Best reception (highest % of positive reception):

  1. Paweł Zatorski – 58%
  2. Michał Potera – 54%
  3. Thibault Rossard – 54%

Next matches (this wednesday):

Asseco Resovia Rzeszów vs Trefl Gdańsk

Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie vs MKS Będzin

Cuprum Lubin vs Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle

Jastrzębski Węgiel vs Indykpol AZS Olsztyn

GKS Katowice vs Chemik Bydgoszcz

Onico Warszawa vs PGE Skra Bełchatów

Battle for 6th special:

Just a short look at teams fighting for 6th (right now), I will probably post something longer about whole play-off race in Plusliga after next matchweek.

PGE Skra Bełchatów – 27 points, 6 games left to play

Opponents: Onico (A), Aluron (H), Czarni (A), GKS (H), Trefl (A), Zaksa (A)

GKS Katowice – 27 points, 5 games left

Opponents: Chemik (H), MKS (H), Skra (A), Zaksa (H), JW (H)

Resovia Rzeszów – 23 points, 6 games left

Opponents: Trefl (H), Indykpol (A), JW (A), Chemik (A), Cuprum (A), Czarni (H)

Trefl Gdańsk – 20 points, 8 games left

Opponents: Resovia (A), Cuprum (H), Onico (A), Zaksa (H), Aluron (H), Skra (H), MKS (H)

As you can see Resovia has the easiest schedule out of all teams fighing, but their position (right now) is the worst. Of course Cerrad Czarni Radom and Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie might join those team in play-off race and increase number of spots for grabs to 2, but I will look at this possibility closer in post focused on play-offs battle.

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