In a breathtaking showdown in Rome, the Polish volleyball team overcame Slovenia in the semi-finals of the European Championship with a 3-1 win (23-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-21). This victory is especially significant given Poland’s past encounters with Slovenia in EuroVolley. In the 2019 and 2021 editions, Slovenia defeated Poland in the semi-finals with identical 3-1 scores. They also dominated the Poles in the Playoff phase with a 3-0 score in 2017. But this time, Poland halted Slovenia’s winning streak and advanced to the EuroVolley finals – a stage they haven’t reached since their golden victory against France in 2009.
The match started on shaky grounds for the Polish team, making several errors and losing the initial set 23-25, due to an attack mistake by Jakub Kochanowski. The Slovenians took an early lead in the second set, thanks to two consecutive aces by Klemen Čebulj, leading 6-2. But after a timely timeout by Nikola Grbić, Poland bounced back, leveling the score at 6-6. Slovenia’s unforced errors allowed Poland to maintain control, sealing the set at 25-21.
The third set brought more drama when Slovenia’s setter, Gregor Ropret, twisted his ankle. His exit significantly impacted the Slovenian side’s efficiency, and despite Uroš Planinšič stepping in, they couldn’t match Poland’s prowess, ending the set 25-20 in favor of Poland.
In the final set, the brilliance of Leon became evident. From a tied score of 11-11, he helped Poland surge ahead to 17-11, featuring a powerful ace among his serves. Ultimately, Wilfredo Leon emerged as the match’s top scorer, contributing a whopping 25 points. On the Slovenian side, Klemen Cebulj and Rok Mozic were the leading scorers, each with 15 points.
EuroVolley – Semifinals, Rome, Italy
Poland vs. Slovenia 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-21)