IBB Polonia London win NEVZA Club Championships
11th February 2019
(Main pic credit: Steve Smith)
IBB Polonia London enjoyed a glorious return to European volleyball as they won gold at the NEVZA Club Championships 2019.
The current Super League leaders travelled to Copenhagen to fly the flag for English volleyball over the weekend in the North European Volleyball Zonal Association (NEVZA) Club Championships, where they beat Danish clubs Ishøj, Hvidovre and Marienlyst, as well as KA from Iceland and Norwegian team Randaberg to the title.
IBB Polonia London chairman, Bartek Luszcz, was delighthed with the win and sees this as a landmark moment in the club's project to raise the profile of the sport in England: "We are very happy to be able to raise this prestigious European trophy on behalf of Volleyball England. This is another proof that England has a huge volleyball potential and with the right mindset and commitment major things are possible.
"I believe this is the first of many international successes that England will experience in the upcoming years. I would like to dedicate it to all people who committed many years of their lives to the development of volleyball in Britain and promise you all - we are hungry for more.”
In the group stages, Polonia finished second in their pool of three. They showed the grit and spirit that would be vital for their success, in their opening match as they produced a stirring comeback from 2-0 down to beat Marienlyst. They were then on the reverse of a five-set comeback as they were squeezed out 15-13 in the deciding fifth set against KA, having led the match 2-1.
That meant they would face the top side from the other pool in the semi-final. Simon Loftus’ side belied their lower ranking to oust Randaberg, who currently lie sixth in the Norwegian Eliteserien. In a tight opener, Randaberg notched the first set 27-25. After that, Polonia found another gear as they rattled off the next two sets 25-21 before they ran away with the decisive set 25-15.
Taking the title
The final saw a rematch from the pool stages as they faced Marienlyst to see who would take the title. Marienlyst had overcome their rivals from the Danish Volleyligaen Hvidovre, where Marienlyst lie second with Hvidovre sit third.
The final was another epic encounter with momentum toing and froing. Polonia took the early initiative by winning the first set 25-23. The Danes then pegged them back 25-19 in the second before wrestling control of the match, easing to the third set 25-15.
Having been trailing Marienlyst in their pool stage match, Polonia knew they were far from out of the match. They pulled on their reserves of steel and energy and once again clawed back the deficit. A tight fourth set was edged by Polonia 25-23 to force a shootout for the title.
Polonia’s resilience was matched by their nerve as they made the most of the shot at glory to get over the line 15-13 and bring home the title of NEVZA Club Championship winners 2019.
It’s a brilliant achievement and one that the club have been building towards, having competed in European competition in the last couple of seasons in the CEV Challenge Cup and NEVZA Club Championships.
Having sealed a European title, it is looking like it could be a very special season for the club in head coach Simon Loftus’ first year at the helm. Polonia are undefeated at the top of the Volleyball England Super League having won nine straight matches and have booked their place in the National Cup semi-finals, where they will face Malory Eagles on February 23rd.