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Home News Captain and flag-bearer sets Poland up for volleyball rematch

Captain and flag-bearer sets Poland up for volleyball rematch

Summer Games 6 August 2023
Michal Gierzot (Poland) in red in men's semi-final action vs Iran

“The eyes, chico… They never lie.”

Al Pacino’s four decades old line in the movie Scarface holds true to this day – at least for Poland’s men volleyball team at the Chengdu FISU World University Games.

During warm-ups for Saturday’s semifinal against Iran, every player was laser focused on the goal, to qualify to the gold-medal game. The eyes of the Poles were fixated on the ball and on their training partners.

Porya Hosseinpour (Iran), in white, goes up against the Polish block

“It is a semifinal. There is no time for lack of confidence,” said Lukasz Kozub, who represents Poland in three capacities in China, setter, team captain, and flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.

And indeed, the Europeans were confident from the start. The bench players cheered on the starters with a little help from a couple dozen compatriots in the stands.

By the end, they were all smiles. Poland prevailed 3-0 in dominant fashion, helped by a 16-point performance by opposite hitter Dawid Dulski.

The win also solidifies a perfect campaign so far for Poles, who haven’t lost a single set throughout the whole tournament. But, in a position where many players would fall into the claws of overconfidence, Kozub keeps his head out of the clouds.

“This is not normal,” he said. “So, we need to respect that and also ensure that we will not lose any focus.”

The setter is also the voice of experience on the team. He is the only player who was in Napoli for the 2019 FISU Summer Games. At the time, Kozub and his teammates missed the gold medal after a tough 3-2 defeat to hosts Italy.

Men’s semi-final volleyball action between Italy and China – Italy would prevail 3-0

Even though he plays in the Polish league – which is one of the best in the world – and represented his country’s senior squad in the 2022 Nations League, Kozub never forgot about that defeat.

“I am looking for revenge,” he said.

And he is going to get his chance. Italy beat China in straight sets in the other semifinal, setting up a mouth-watering rematch between the reigning silver and gold medallists.

“I just cannot wait for Monday’s game,” said the setter, who takes inspiration from Novak Djokovic and his champion’s mentality.

Kozub is also a big music fan. He likes to listen to rap and Polish music before games, but when the ball is in play, he blocks out the noise.

“I don’t hear the specific music that plays in the arena,” he said.

This means that the 25-year-old missed out on “New Romantics” by Taylor Swift, which blared through the speakers pretty much every time someone spiked a ball.

Until Monday, however, Kozub will keep practicing and listening to his favourite song, Polish hit Mali ludzie wielkie nieba, by Bialas, to keep a cool, confident head for the final.

“I believe that if we play at the level we did today and during the whole tournament, we can beat anyone,” Kozub said.

Written by Pedro Consoli, FISU Young Reporter