What does it take to be the ‘Greatest Match Of All Time’? I guess simply speaking the match needs to have high quality, great drama and a big stage. Below you will find a couple of candidates but those are of course not the only ones.
NETHERLANDS – ITALY, MEN’S OLYMPIC FINALS 1996 (3:2)
The best match of all time is still the Netherlands – Italy Olympic final from 1996. Two star packed teams, both at the absolute peak of the powers, playing at their best form. There is no words to describe that show. See it by yourself.
POLAND – SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO, WORLD LEAGUE, MEN’S SEMI – FINAL 2005 (2:3)
Poland started the first game very well by set up the block and stopped Marković. Serbs could not find a recipe for the excellent Grzyb, Wlazly (attack) and Kadziewicz (block). Grbit’s three aces gave Serbs hope to make up for the losses. Their better game and the simple mistakes of Poland meant that the result was a draw 22:22, and a moment later 23:23. However, Milijkovic’s two mistakes (auto play and attack) gave Poland the coveted victory. In the second set Poland was leading 5:2, 9:5. At this stage of the set, Piotr Gruszka and Wojciech Grzyb stood out, but the quality of the block was much worse. At the end of the game, at 22:19, Aleksandar Mitrović scored a technical service, the result 23:22 appeared on the scoreboard. The next points were scored by Murek, Grbić and finally the set ball, Mariusz Wlazly. In the third set, Goran Vujevic’s play allowed Serbia to jump back by several points. Despite the efforts of the Polish team, Serbs finally won 25:20. In the next clash, with the result of 8:10, the Serb mistakes allowed Poland to lead to a draw at 10. However, they enjoyed a favorable result for a short time, as they were losing 10:14 after a while. Nikola Grbić finished the game with a spectacular service ace and the tie-break became a reality. The last set started with Poland’s false start. Mariusz Wlazly had problems with finishing his actions, as a result Serbs took the lead 5:0. Poland’s players had too few strengths on their side to make up for the losses. Especially Nikola Grbić, Aleksandar Mitrović and Ivan Milijković, who did not perform well in the previous games, turned out to be the white and red executioners. The tie-break ended with 10:15, and the whole game was won by the Serbs 2:3. The best player of the game was Nikola Grbić, captain of Serbia and Montenegro, who, playing as quarterback, scored as many as 12 “points” on his account.
POLAND – RUSSIA, WORLD CUP 2006 (3:2)
After a heavy, five-set match, Polish volleyball players defeated the Russian team 3-2. The decisive match in the group stage gave the Polish team a promotion to the best four in the world championship. On the first set, the best element of Polish volleyball players’ game was a tight block. The only player who successfully broke through the Russian block was Mariusz Wlazly but despite this they lost the first set 19:25. The second game started with a point-for-point game. Wlazly was still attacking very strongly. Sborna’s players ruthlessly used the advantage of growth and at the second technical break they were leading by 16:11. At the end of the game, the Russians found a recipe for strong attacks from Wlazly. The second set ended with the same result as the previous one and the Polish team was losing 0:2. In the third set Pawel Zagumny’s soaring play caused significant problems to the Russians. Poland maintained a two-point advantage and for the first time in this match they had a set ball, which they did not waste, and they won the third game to 22. The advantage of the Polish team in the fifth set increased to six points, and the Russians seemed helpless. The last point in this set was scored by Gruszka and Poland won to 20. Horror with a happy ending. The first long ball exchange in the tie-break ended with the success of Poland. Poland played virtually flawlessly, while the opponents became more and more nervous. The last point in this match was scored after Grzegorz Szymanski’s attack and the Polish team could enjoy a well-deserved victory over the team.
POLAND – RUSSIA, OLYMPIC 2008 (3:2)
One of the most memorable and dramatic game of the Polish national team in The Olympics 2008. Amazing battle between Poland and Russia in the tie-break. Poland was already losing 0:2, but managed to turn the tide of this clash. The Olympics are special tournament for volleyball players cause of Olympic pension. Mariusz Wlazły with 23 points was the best scorer of that game. The result of the last set, 15:12, proved that Poland is a relatively strong team. That was quite of a sensation. Poland defeated the absolute favorite. Interestingly, at the bookmaker Betclic with a promo code, by betting on the underdog’s victory of 10 euros, you could win 200 euros of Betclic bonus.
BRAZIL – USA, MEN’S OLYMPIC FINALS 2008 (1:3)
The newly crowned FIVB World League champion USA proved their quality with a victory in this game of strength and delicacy, skill and bluff, and individual energy and teamwork. Brazil, who also won Olympic gold in 1992 in Barcelona dominated the opener with powerful serves and unyielding defense, thanks to the stunning Andre Heller and captain Giba. The Americans could barely organize effective counterattacks for their poor reception, surrendering the set 25-20. The U.S. wing spiker Clayton Stanley came to the rescue at the second set with devastating serves and high-jump spikes. Staying within an early lead 8-1, David Lee and William Priddy launched a brilliant wave of attacks to the Brazilian court to level up to 20-15. Giba’s ace serves and spikes helped Brazil to catch up as close as 21-20. But it was Stanley again who scored two points in a row to take the set point 24-21. Andre saved one set point with an ace serve, but Stanley clinched the set for the U.S. 25-22 with a spike. The Americans kept their winning momentum with even better defense to take the third set 25-21. The two sides fought closely in the fourth set before a 20-20 draw, when Stanley broke the tie and helped the Americans lead 23-21 with two kill blocks. Ryan Millar’s spike added one point to push it to 24-22. Andre saved one match point with spike, but Stanley grasped the victory for the U.S. 25-23 with a spike.
POLAND – ARGENTINA, WORLD CUP 2018 (2:3)
The game started brilliantly for Poland – the Argentinians did not end their attacks even when the quarterback Maximiliano Cavanna was clearing their net, the ball returned to the Polish side over and over again. During the first technical break Poland was already leading 8:3.
After a single block of Jakub Kochanowski on Agustin Losera, it was 21:12 for Poland and it was clear that nothing bad would happen to the team. Poland finished set in an effective way, with the Śliwka block on Jose Luis Gonzalez. In the second set there was less aggression in the Poland’s game than in the first set, the effectiveness in attack also dropped and as a result Poland let Argentina get score seven points in a row with a not too difficult service by Luciano De Cecco and the set got out of control. Poland lost the second set 19:25 against the rival who apart from a good defense game, had little to offer. In the third set it was Argentina who showed higher game culture, greater maturity and cleverness and finally won the set. In the fourth set Argentinians played their part, they took the service well. At 22:22, Szalpuk threw the passing ball into the pitch. He scored Lisandro Zanotti with another service and Poland had a setball. 25:23 and the first Polish tie-break. Although Poland were leading in fifth set 14:11, their rivals tied them, and after the block at Konarski they won by one point. Szalpuk did not finish the next action, the Argentinians scored in the counter and they won 16:14, and in the whole match 3:2.
Those were my best matches of all times. Ones that I could remember and with my favourite volleyball players. A lot of thrill, emotions and plot twists. Which matches do you think should take place on that list?