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26/04/2014 22:00
Atomic girls settle for bronze in Polish league
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Sopot, Poland, April 26, 2014. Atom Trefl SOPOT finished their campaign in the Polish national league with a bronze medal. The team from the Baltic Sea edged archrivals Tauron Banimex DABROWA GORNICZA by 3:1 in their last match up, thereby adding a bronze medal to the titles won in 2012 and 2013 and a silver medal from the 2010/2011 season.

Atom Trefl – which is being coached by Tomasz Wasilkowski after the resignation of Teun Buijs – did not start that well the final match with Tauron but got back on track in the following sets. Tauron forced the Atomic girls to commit many mistakes in the first set and also performed strong from the service area to make it 1:0. Tauron was playing with Joanna Straniucha-Szczurek as their opposite due to the absence of Natalia Brussa and Katarzyna Zaroslinska; Staniucha performed well but could not win the game all alone as the remainder of the collective did not stand out in terms of quality and consistency. Staniucha was the best scorer at the end of the match but could not change the final result. Brazil’s Welissa Gonzaga – aka Sassa – also played well but made too many mistakes to help Tauron beat SOPOT.

The Atomic girls looked very nervous at the beginning of the match but fortunately they got back on track as Anna Podolec and Charlotte Leys – awarded as MVP in the end – stepped up and helped SOPOT win the game. Zuzanna Efimienko performed strong as well but the real heroine of the third and fourth sets was another middle-blocker, youngster Justyna Lukasik, who stood out with her actions (she had replaced Yuliya Shelukhina in the starting six after the latter got injured some months ago). Finally SOPOT beat Tauron by 3:1 (19-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-15) to celebrate in the perfect way the 100th cap with the jersey of the Atomic girls for team captain and setter Izabela Belcik. “We are evidently very happy with this victory, because we wanted to finish the season with a medal around our necks. We wanted this victory so badly and we finally made it,” Belcik said.

“Teun, if you are watching this press conference, I would like to say that this medal is yours,” head coach Tomasz Wasilkowski said addressing SOPOT former mentor Teun Buijs. “I want to thank the players because I am very young and had to mentor some very experienced players, but we found a way to cooperate very successfully. I do appreciate the work we have done all together with Piotr Graban and Piotr Matela. We also owe much of this success to Aleksander Bielecki and Dariusz Klosa who have been taking good care of our girls. Aleksander is an outstanding specialist and a great person at the same time, I have learned a lot from him. Last but not least I want to thank every single person who is working for the club, in our press, marketing and administration departments. This is a really tough job and your role must be emphasized as well.”

SOPOT already announced their intention to apply for a wild-card in order to make their fourth consecutive appearance in the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League. The two spots for Poland are already taken by national champions Chemik POLICE and runner-ups Impel WROCLAW. Chemik beat Impel by 3:0 to end the Championship series after three matches; this way Poland’s Volleyball legend Malgorzata Glinka-Mogentale could celebrate her first title in the Polish national league after spending most of her career abroad. As for Tauron Banimex, shortly after the last game with SOPOT, both head coach Nicola Negro and player Elzbieta Skowronska – who had spent four seasons in Dabrowa Gornicza – announced their intention to leave the club.

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