Varna, Bulgaria, September 15, 2018 – Poland extended its win streak at World Championships to ten games after beating Finland 3-1 (25-20, 26-28, 25-16, 25-15) in Pool D. The win in front of a record 5500 crowd in Varna put 2014 champions safely to Round 2.
In a festive atmosphere in the Palace of Culture and Sports fans of both teams sang, clapped and danced for more than two hours. Celebrating volleyball together with FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça, FIVB Vice President Aleksandar Boricic and Bulgarian volleyball federation President Dancho Lazarov.
With an afternoon game on Sunday to follow Finland coach Tuomas Sammelvuo left top scorer Sivula and setter Tervaportti on the bench opting for the 40-year old Mikko Esko instead. Poland welcomed back Kurek and Szalpuk back in the starting line-up after getting a day off against Puerto Rico. And the duo carried the World Champions to a 25-20 opening set victory. Szalpuk accounted for 5 spiked while Kurek added 3 and an ace.
A dramatic finish marked the second set. Finland missed a set point leading 24-23 before an ace by Michal Kubiak got Poland a set point. And it was over just seconds later after the attack by Kaislasalo landed beyond the line. But the video challenge proved, it was Kurek with the last touch. Finland got the advantage back after an ace by Suihkonen and the third time was the charm. A setting error by Szalpuk ended the set – 29-27.
The start of Set 3 was strange. Kubiak first got a yellow card then served back-to-back aces. Playing angry Poland raced to an 8-3 lead and in a flash it was over – 25-16.
Suddenly there was no contest. Five points from blocks in Set 4 assured Polish success – 25-15.
Szalpuk finished a point shy of his total against Cuba registering 19 points. Kurek added 13, Kubiak – 12.
Next for Poland – the clash at the top with fellow unbeaten Iran on Monday evening.