Preparations before the European Championship 2011 are slowly coming to an end. Several teams have already showed their amazing potential but also few national teams showed numerous shortcomings and their fans may be greatly anxious.
One of such tournaments was organised last weekend in Katowice, Poland. It was a memorial dedicated to Hubert Wagner who was the most outstanding coach in Polish volleyball history, but it also was the last test before Euro 2011 for Poland, Russia, Italy and Czech Republic. Every of this team is going to fight for medal during the ECH. Spectators, which crowded sport halls in the number of 9000 every day, expected high level of these game and finally a victory of Polish national team.
Unfortunately, the first match has already dispelled the hopes of many fans. Poland lost a match against Czech Republic easily 0-3. Team of Jan Svoboda did not give any chance to Poles being better in every element of volleyball craft. „The old guards” Jiri Popelka and Petr Konecny were the leaders and Polish block sometimes was helpless in a duel with these players. Czech Republic showed modern, fast and technical volleyball so they won deservedly. Poland played without any positive aggression and without the opposite because Jakub Jarosz and Piotr Gruszka did not finished a lot of spikes. As it occurred, it was a vital problem during all tournament.
Few hours before, people could have seen a fantastic match between Italy and Russia. Both teams confirmed that they want to fight for gold medal in Euro 2011. Fans were witnessed of the balanced game which was dominated by powerful attacks and services, however, they could see also a large number of simple errors. There was very interesting competition between two friends from Cuneo Luigi Mastreangelo and Aleksander Volkov. The older player was better, like his team who beat Russia 3-2.
The next day, Russia faced the Czech Republic. Sborna played perfectly and time after time was taking advantage their middle – blockers who were unstoppable, especially Dimitri Musersky (218cm) was smashing Czechs by his atack, block, and service. Even Jan Stokr was not able to break the Russian wall. Russia won 3-0.
In the next game, Poland was playing against Italy. Andrea Anastasi stood in front of his student Mauro Berutto. This time, Poland played much better than the day before despite they didn’t succeed. Squadra Azzurra won 3-1 but after very equal game. However, Poland showed that if you serve strong you can defeat this team.
The last day of the tournament began with a duel between the Czech Republic and Italy. Both groups presented a very interesting volleyball. Czechs again used their technique and used Petr Platenik who ruthlessly exploit the block rivals. Additionally, Jan Stokr turned on his powerful attack and supported his friends. The Italians responded by attacks from the wings and they decided to take game in their own hands .Finally, Itally occurred to be better and won 3-1 over Czechs. We could see that older generation in Czech team had physical problems and it will be the most important factor which can break chances to gain a medal on European Championship for Czech Republic.
In the last match of Memorial the Russians defeated Poland 3-0. Team of Anastasi were able to confront Russia only in the first set. In subsequent parts the Russians “shot” them with his powerful serve and Poles showed again that they are not in good form.
The entire memorial ended with victory for Italy, however, the Russians made the best impression on observers, and proved their strenght. The Czechs presented very well confirming their class and showed that they wanted to play in Vienna on the 18th September . Poland disappointed. Players justify the very heavy preparations for the European Championship and contend that the form has come in two weeks. However, it is said that Andrea Anastasi made mistake not sending the appointment to such players like Michal Winiarski or Daniel Plinski. One thing is certain, Euro 2011 promise to be very interesting.