With the inaugural FIVB U23 Beach Volleyball World Championships set to begin Poland’s leading female duo of Katarzyna Kociolek and Daria Paszek are aiming to give their home supporters something to cheer about.
Poland has a fine tradition of success in FIVB age-group tournaments and Kociolek has been leading the way. She won gold alongside Karolina Baran at the 2011 FIVB U19 World Championships and the pair again reached the final in 2012, but they had to settle for silver. Later in 2012 at the CEV European U18 Champions she added another gold medal to her collection.
Paszek meanwhile is highly experienced when it comes to competing in age-group tournaments and has competed in four U21 World Championships and three U19.
One day out from the start of competition the weather has been rainy and overcast in Myslowice and Kociolek feels that this provides yet another advantage to her and her partner.
“We are very happy we can be here,” she said. “We hope to enjoy some good results and satisfy our supporters. Everybody is afraid of the weather, but for us it is even better - we have many opponents from exotic countries and they are not used to such weather conditions.”
It hasn’t only been Kociolek who has enjoyed success for Poland at junior level. Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak became 2012 U21 world champions a year after they won silver in the event.
In the 2012 Boy’s U19 World Championship there was an all-Poland final in which Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak defeated the Kaczmarek brothers, Lukasz and Sebastian.
Kantor and Losiak will now lead Poland’s efforts in the men’s competition, while Maciej Kosiak and Maciej Rudol are the host nation’s second pairing. In the women’s tournament though all eyes will be on Kociolek and Daszek and their coach is confident of them fulfilling their potential.
“In this tournament two Polish women’s teams will compete and we hope for some success with the help of our supporters,” national coach Violetta Bakos said.
“Katarzyna Kociolek gained two gold medals last year in the U19 and U20 European Championships. She also won a silver medal at the U19 World Championships. Daria Paszek also won some medals (with former partner Renata Bekier); she has won three medals at European Championships. I hope that changes that I made to our duos will have a good effect.”
Myslowice, located 70km outside Poland’s ancient capital Krakow, will host a FIVB age group World Championships for a third time after successfully hosting the U19 and U21 versions in 2006 and 2007.
It has also regularly hosted stops on the FIVB World Tour - the first World Tour competition was a single-gender women’s tournament in 2008, as was the 2011 event. In 2009, 2010 and 2012 it was the men who lit up the courts.
FIVB U23 Beach Volleyball World Championships teams by continent
CAVB – via qualification tournament
Women (6): Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe
CEV – Best six countries from 2012 CEV U19/21/23 BVB European Championships.
Women (6): Germany, Russia, Czech Rep, Netherlands, Latvia, Austria
Two additional spots (per gender) for hosts Poland
AVC – By nomination
Women (1): Australia
CSV – By nomination
Women (3): Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela
NORCECA – By nomination
Women (4): USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago