The Polish women’s volleyball team, filled with high hopes and a series of previous victories, encountered an unexpected challenge in their opening match of the Olympic qualifiers against Thailand. The team, which had won seven consecutive matches leading up to the tournament, was caught off guard as they faced unexpected resistance from the Thai squad and ultimately lost 3-2 (25:18, 7:25, 25:22, 23:25, 15:12).
In their first three qualifying matches, the Polish team had only lost one set, but those victories came against weaker opponents: Slovenia, South Korea, and Colombia. The match against Thailand was seen as their first significant test in Łódź.
The opening set highlighted the strength of the Thai team as they quickly surged to a 6-0 lead, completely neutralizing the Polish squad’s attacks. The Polish team struggled to score points, not securing their first point until the score was 5:9. Although they managed to claw back to 10:11, the Thai team regained their momentum. Kokram Pimpichaya and Chatchu-on Moksri, with powerful attacks, built an insurmountable lead, resulting in the Polish team losing the set 18-25.
The initial defeat served as a wake-up call for the team led by Stefano Lavarini. Their offensive game picked up, with Czyrniańska and Stysiak quickly propelling their team to a substantial lead. The outcome of the set became clear, and the Polish team aimed not only for victory but also for breaking point-scoring records. Strong blocking and effective serves led to a decisive win of 25-7, tying the record for this year’s Olympic qualifiers.
Although momentum seemed to favor Poland, this time, it wasn’t the case. The Polish team kept the score level until 2:2, but then, Srithong Wipawee and Kongyot Ajcharaporn took control of the fifth set, contributing seven points each to secure an Asian team victory. Despite closing the gap briefly to 18:20, the Polish team lost the set by 25:22.
The victory in the following set was attributed to the outstanding performance of Martyna Czyrniańska, who dominated the net with four point-scoring blocks and commendable attacking efficiency. The Polish team led throughout the set and won 25:23.
The tie-breaker set was fiercely contested up to 12:12. However, as the set progressed, the Thai team grew more confident, securing a crucial point at 13:12 and ultimately winning the match after a mistake from Magdalena Stysiak’s attack.
While the Polish team faced an unexpected challenge in their opening match against Thailand, their tournament journey is far from over. They must regroup and focus on their upcoming matches to secure a spot at the Paris Olympics. The path to Olympic qualification remains challenging, but the Polish squad has proven their ability to rise to the occasion when needed.