Malwina Smarzek added a further 35 points to her collection while Poland upset China 3-2 (18-25, 25-17, 25-18, 22-25, 15-12) in front of a stunned home crowd as the 2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League lit up Macau on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old opposite spiker has now amassed 100 for the tournament and the Chinese had no answer for her power as Polish coach Jacek Nawrocki made some clever rotations, set around the superb all-round court coverage of libero Agata Witkowska.
For China it was teenaged star Li Yingying who gave fans a look at the future.The 18-year-old Li has the whole volleyball world watching and duly delivered with 19 points in China’s losing effort.
But not much else went the way of the 2016 Rio gold medalists with Poland rising to the big occasion in front of China’s vocal home fans.
As hosts, China are assured of a place in the VNL finals and coach Lang Ping has taken the opportunity to give court time to her younger players. It has had mixed results – as a first-round upset loss to South Korea (3-0) was matched by the Polish on Tuesday night.
Poland were quick to pounce on a number of crucial mistakes in the middle sets – Smarzek in particular – as coach Lang mixed and matched her line-up.
A record of 2-2 doesn’t fully reflect Poland’s form, given they took a set off world champions the USA in the first-round before losing 3-1 and ground out a gutsy 3-2 win over Italy. But coach Jacek Nawrocki and his charges didnlt seem to care too much as they celebrated their upset.
The big question now is just how quickly China can come up with a line-up that’s settled enough to tackle the form teams of the VNL.