There was no shortage of drama in Friday’s 3-2 Argentina win over Poland at the 2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship. While the tie-breaker, and Poland’s first loss of the tournament, offered plenty of it on the court, the extracurricular tension may have surpassed even the level of a tie-breaker at the World Championships.
- Polish captain and top scorer Michal Kubiak didn’t even make it to the arena, dealing with illness, handing the captain’s band to Mateusz Bieniek. Kubiak complained about the food in the tournament’s first stop in Varna, Bulgaria, and said he showed symptoms of food poisoning. Turns out – he might have just been sick (food poisoning usually lasts only 1 or 2 days). Remember that he missed most of the Nations League tournament while dealing with chronic pink eye as well – his departure halted the Polish momentum in that tournament as well. Coach Vital Heynen says that “this is what the team has been working on” and that it’s time to prove they have 14 players, not just 6.
- Heynen said after the match that “Michal Kubiak himself will not win the championship,” though recent results indicate that he might be the team’s most important piece. The team lost their first match of the champion 3-2 to Argentina without him, and at the Nations League were 5-1 in matches he played and in 1st place, but went just 5-4 after he left the side to sneak into the Final 6 in the last invited position.
- Poland coach Vital Heynen says that they were not notified of the rules reminder prohibiting attackers from pushing balls off the block and out of play, which FIVB has made a point of emphasis in this tournament. Players are only allowed to push the ball straight into the block.
- Bartosz Kurek complained of turmoil caused by referee Ortiz Ramirez of the Dominican Republic after the match, though he wouldn’t blame the officials for the loss. Ramirez seemed lost among a flurry of late-match video reviews, where second referee Andrei Zenowicz of Russia, the more experienced of the pair, was forced to step in and guide his partner on more-than-one occasion. “I hope that some parts of volleyball rules will be quickly explained to us so that we know how to play tomorrow,” Kurek said.
- Mateusz Bienek, who has already received a 700 Euros fine for complaining about officiating, first said he would not comment on the officials, and then proceeded to complain about the calls – saying that they had to have been wrong in one direction or the other.
- Dawid Konarski took an opposite tact, saying that “in general, judging was of a good standard,” acknowledging that both sides had complaints in the match.
- Argentina complained on their side too post match, with players posing afterward making the gesture for the video challenge request (see headline image above). Argentina coach Julio Velasco was suspended for Saturday’s match against Serbia as a result of his post-match gestures toward the officials.