Poland (POL) vs. USA (USA) women - Final 3-4 #5863167

Elated Polish players pose after their victory against the United States

The Polish women’s national team made history in Arlington, the United States, on Sunday, by claiming their first-ever medal in the Volleyball Nations League in the 2023 edition of the tournament and becoming the first Challenger team to step on the podium in the event.

In order to finish third in the fifth edition of the tournament, the Europeans had to upset hosts and Olympic champions the United States in the bronze medal match, producing a 3-2 (25-15, 16-25, 25-19, 18-25, 17-15) victory in a packed College Park Center.

  • Watch Volleyball Nations League 2023 Finals live on VBTV

Poland’s third-place finish in the VNL 2023 rewards the team for an excellent campaign in this year’s edition of the tournament. The Europeans were the best team in the Preliminary Phase with ten victories in 12 matches and advanced to the VNL Finals for the first time in five attempts, all that without star setter and team captain Joanna Wolosz.

Star opposite Magdalena Stysiak had an outstanding performance in the bronze medal match, leaving the court with 23 points. The 22-year-old, 2.03m-tall player registered 20 kills, two aces and one block against the Olympic champions.

“We had never won a medal in the VNL and I am really happy and proud,” Stysiak commented. “I want to congratulate the Americans for their performance too. We have a lot of respect for them, but we showed today that when we play as a team, we can beat anyone. For me, it’s a dream to win this medal. We know how much we worked for this and it’s amazing to have done it. We wanted it so much.”

All four other Polish starting hitters also reached double digits in scoring, with outside hitters Olivia Rózański and Martyna Łukasic each contributing 14 points and middle blockers Agnieszka Korneluk and Magdalena Jurczyk adding 13 and ten points, respectively.

Rookie outside hitter Avery Skinner was the most productive American player, producing 18 points (15 kills, three blocks to her team). Olympic champion opposite Annie Drews was the only other athlete in the home team to get to double digits in scoring, registering ten points with nine kills and one block.

Poland (POL) vs. USA (USA) women - Final 3-4 #5863341

Rózański makes a diving dig during the bronze medal match

The Polish offensive power was too much for the Americans as the Europeans outscored the Olympic champions in that department by 63 points to 50 - the difference was enough to eclipse the higher number of errors made by the Poles (30 to 20). There was some balance in the two other scoring kills, with Poland dominating in aces (seven to five) and the Americans getting the most blocks (14 to 11).

Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

The gold medal match of the VNL 2023, reuniting Türkiye and China, will be played later on Sunday, at 17:30 local time (22:30 UTC), at the College Park Center.

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