Diana Mae Salonoy

World No. 1 Poland secured another Volleyball Nations League (VNL) medal after dealing Japan with a 3-1 (19-25, 28-26, 25-17, 25-21) gentleman's sweep in their semifinal clash in Gdansk, Poland on Sunday (PhST).

Photo Courtesy of Volleyball Nations League

Dropping the first set, Poland sought rescue from Wilfredo Leon, whose offense helped the team escape the second set, 28-26, before dominating the next two frames.

Leon led the way with 23 points, behind an efficient 72% attack success rate, to hand Polska its fourth VNL medal and potential first-ever gold.

"This means a lot," Leon said in the post-game interview. "To come back after two years is great and it is emotional to be here and play in the final."

Lukasz Kaczmarek provided a boost for the host nation with 19 points and four of Poland's nine kill blocks. Aleksander Sliwka added 14, including the match-sealing kill in the fourth set.

"We play in front of the fans, and that means a lot of emotional support for us," Leon added with a raucous 10,000 home crowd rallying behind them.

Leon's late entrance in the first set spelled doom for Poland. However, it annexed a 10-5 lead in the second set before escaping Yuki Ishikawa who saved four set points for Japan, 28-26.

It was all Polska moving forward, thanks to Kaczmarek and Leon. The tandem uncorked a 16-8 run in the third, then escaped a narrow 15-14 lead in the fourth to clinch both sets and the match.

The host nation has one final wall to conquer in the United States as it hopes to clinch the VNL championship on Monday (PhST).


Ryujin Nippon was two sets away from making history.

After sweeping Slovenia in the quarterfinals, Japan gave the Polish a scare on its semifinal debut–only to fall out of steam.

Ishikawa top-scored for the Japanese with 22 points and four aces. The captain also forced the ties in the second frame, 18-all and 24-all, along their mini-run in the third.

Ran Takahashi added 16, while Kento Miyaura poured 13 points, all in attacks.

While their golden hopes are put on hold, the Japanese can capture bronze by taking on Italy on Monday (PhST).

Edited by Jostle Doen Pilayre