OK Niš knock IBB Polonia London out of CEV Cup
18th December 2020
English champions IBB Polonia London’s European campaign has come to an end after losing 1-3 (25-22, 23-25, 20-25, 21-25) to OK Niš in the CEV Cup.
Despite leaving it all out on the court, the Serbian side proved just too much for the English champions in the match on Tuesday, 15th December.
In the first set, there was little separating the sides until the final stages when Polonia seized and maintained the lead (25-22). Buoyed by that opener, the Londoners then established a four-point lead and looked set to take the second set until 23-20, when OK Niš stepped it up a gear to take five points in a row and secure the set (23-25).
Polonia gave it their all but were unable to salvage the match, which finished 1-3 (25-22, 23-25, 20-25, 21-25).
OK Niš advanced to the quarter finals of the CEV Cup which – due to an adjusted competition format – took place two days later on Thursday, 17th December against Montpellier Castelnau. That game finished 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-14) in favour of the team from France.
It was against all odds that Vangelis Koutouleas’ men even made it to Montpellier, France, for the Round of 16 clash.
After playing in the CEV Champions League Volley, ‘rule of six’ restrictions prevented the squad from training together before even stricter measures were introduced as part of the three-tiered lockdown system in England. Then came the national four-week lockdown.
Some players relocated to mainland Europe in an attempt to boost their individual training regimes and then, weeks before their clash with OK Niš, the team was reunited at a training camp at the home of partner club PGE Skra Belchatow in Poland.
Bartek Luszcz, President of IBB Polonia London, said: “We worked so hard to get here. We achieved the almost impossible to ensure the team could play the CEV Cup. We overcame a stream of obstacles placed in our way during this bizarre season.
“Beating the Serbs was our mission and goal, and this is why we are so upset. We had to play and also to win. We did everything to perfection, but for some reason things didn't come together.
“We learnt a very painful lesson, which we have to accept. There are no excuses, only solutions to prevent a repeat of this again in the future.”
In extremely challenging circumstances, the English champions have made big improvements in Europe this year and made us all so proud.
Well done to the players, coaches and backroom staff – it’s been great fun following your journey!