Poland men’s volleyball team claimed their first victory at the 2023 Hubert Wagner Memorial as they beat Olympic champions France 3-1 (27-29, 25-16, 25-21, 25-20) in Krakow on Saturday.
Wilfredo Leon was the best scorer of the winners with 18 points, while Jean Patry and Yacine Louati scored the same number each for France.
The team led by Nikola Grbic made a perfect start as they blocked two consecutive attacks from France, while a moment later Cuban-born receiver Leon delivered an ace to give his team a 6-2 lead.
Poland seemed to control the game and they were just one point from closing the opening set as they led by 24-21. However, the Olympic champions defended three set balls. Yacine Louati found a point from the service area, while Kevin Tillie made it 29-27.
The world champions were able to turn the game into their favor as they crushed France in the second set. Nikola Grbic’s side built a strong advantage from the very beginning with a 6-1 lead. Finally, the hosts allowed France to score just 16 points to make it 1-1 in sets.
Then Poland continued the momentum to take the lead in the early stage of the third set. For a long time France tried to cut the deficit and when Quentin Jouffroy served an ace to make it 22-20, it seemed that Andrea Giani’s players returned to the right path, but Poland handled the pressure.
In the crucial moment Louati missed the target in the attack and the hosts won 25-21. In the last set the visitors couldn’t find a way to stop Wilfredo Leon, who killed France’s hopes for their first victory in the tournament. Poland won the fourth set by 25-20 to close the match in four sets.
Earlier on the day Slovenia beat Italy 3-2 in the Tauron Arena Krakow.
On the last day of the 2023 Hubert Wagner Memorial Poland will face Italy, while France will battle against Slovenia.
After two rounds Slovenia are in the top with 5 points ahead of Italy and Poland.