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2023 VNL Season

VNL: Aleksander Sliwka stars as Poland scores huge come-from-behind win vs Slovenia

Poland executed a crucial reverse sweep to deny an upset from Slovenia in five sets, with scores of 29-31, 21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-13, in the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Nations League on Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

In the all-important battle between the co-hosts of the 2022 Worlds, the world No. 1 took the upper hand, securing a better standing heading into the Final Round. The Nikola Grbić-mentored side now holds a 7-2 win-loss record.

The 2022 VNL bronze medalists relied on their floor coverage and effective block formation in the deciding set, leading to their come-from-behind victory.

Aleksander Sliwka played a crucial role in Poland’s comeback, contributing 18 attacks, one block, and one service ace. The 28-year-old standout expressed his satisfaction, saying, “We wanted to adjust as fast as we could. We know Slovenia is a good team, and we have a history of tough games against them. But we came back from being 2-0 down, so we were very happy.”

Poland initially relied on its net defense to gain a 24-21 advantage, but three consecutive mistakes allowed Slovenia to regain momentum. Slovenia took advantage of this opportunity and finished the set with consecutive kills from Jan Kozamernik and Rok Možič.

Building on this momentum, the Balkan squad established a 19-14 lead in the second set, courtesy of a captain Tine Urnaut’s ace. This lead proved sufficient as Slovenia shocked the world No. 1 by winning the set.

Poland had to dig deep to overcome the deficit, with outside hitter Sliwka taking charge in the next two sets, both ending with a score of 25-20, to equalize the match.

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This crucial victory rejuvenated the Polish team.

Bartosz Bednorz contributed 14 points with 13 spikes and one block, while captain Bartosz Kurek, coming off the bench, finished with 10 points.

Poland will now take a break before facing Brazil in another crucial match on Friday at 11 a.m.

Outside hitters Klemen Čebulj and Možič led Slovenia’s fight, with Čebulj scoring 20 points and Možič providing an energizing performance off the bench with 17 points.

Slovenia, now with a 6-3 record, will aim for a bounce-back win when they face China on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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