Plebiscite. ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle won the Champions League and became the team of the year

Polish volleyball has been waiting for this success since 1978, when in Basel Płomień Milowice triumphed in the European Cup of National Champions. 43 years later, in the Champions League final in Verona, Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle defeated Itas Trentino 3-1, winning the cup that Polish teams would have been dreaming of and for so long. She did it in a breathtaking style, beating the giants of European volleyball along the way.

Golden Set Champions

In the quarter-finals, the players of Cucine Lube Civitanova tears to tears, in the semi-finals they eliminated the six-time Champions League winners Zenit Kazan. In both cases, ZAKSA won away matches, in both cases the promotion was determined by the dramatic golden sets played at Hala Azoty.

– This is probably the sweetest defeat in our lives, because we lost the match 0: 3, but the golden set gave us a promotion – Paweł Zatorski rejoiced after his triumph over Cucine Lube libero. The last point in the dramatic golden set with the Italian team was scored by Łukasz Kaczmarek, who also ended the final against Trentino with a fantastic service. However, before the Kędzierzyn crowd could dance a dance of joy in Verona and shed tears of happiness, they had to fight two unbelievable clashes with Zenit. In the first game in Kazan they lost 0-2 in sets and 22:24 in the third game, but they jumped to the fight to triumph 3-2. In the rematch they were leading 2: 1 in sets and a few times they were on the verge of killing the Russian giant, but they did not use seven match balls – they lost the fourth game 28:30, the fifth 18:20 – but they still had a golden set in stock, in which they triumphed 15:13.

I love those guys

The players from Kędzierzyn to the final to Verona after a defeat in the competition for the PlusLiga gold medal with Jastrzębski Węgiel. – The hardships of the murderous season have made themselves felt, but now we are facing a historic opportunity that we must seize. ZAKSA never gives up – said Sebastian Świderski, president of the club from Kędzierzyn-Koźle. And in the city of love, the inhabitants of Kędzierzyn made their dreams come true, and Aleksander Śliwka was chosen for the MVP of the final. ZAKSA won the cup, although the most dangerous rivals had much higher budgets and star squads, built for money that the Polish club could only dream of. – This is my most important experience in my coaching career and I will remember it for the rest of my life. Together, we have achieved something unique. I love these boys, I have an amazing relationship with them – said coach Nikola Grbić, who fell to his knees after the last ball of the final, flooding with tears.

In Polish sport, only three teams won the most important club competitions – the Płomień Milowice volleyball players in 1978 and the Vive Kielce handball players in 2016, which increases the rank of the result achieved by ZAKSA.

Especially for us, we are commented on by Waldemar Wielki, former player of Płomień and coach of Mostostal

We waited a long time for the next triumph of the Polish team in the most important competitions, and I am lucky that in 1978 I was a player of Płomień Milowice, and now I was celebrating the victory of ZAKS as a member of the club’s management board. How valuable this success is is the fact that, apart from volleyball players, only Vive Kielce handball players managed to win the Champions League. ZAKSA did it, although it does not have the highest budget even in PlusLiga, and on paper, rivals in the Champions League had stronger squads.

The team from Kędzierzyn-Koźle, however, played great matches with Cucine and Zenit, which will remain in our memory for a long time, and in the final they were undoubtedly better than Trentino. ZAKSA not only referred to the glory days of Mostostal at the beginning of the 21st century, when we played twice in the final tournament of the Champions League, but also surpassed the achievements of my team. In Kędzierzyn, coaches and players change, and the team plays at the highest level all the time. How is this possible? ZAKSA just has that something, there is a great atmosphere in the team and in the club, president Świderski arranged everything perfectly, and the money is not playing.

About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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