The Jastrzębski Węgiel – Kędzierzyn semi final series in Poland continues to intrigue. I just got back from game four and with the series levelled at 2-2, I can honestly say that I have no clue who will win the fifth match. During the second set of the third match I predicted that the series would go to five matches and more or less how it would proceed. Sometimes I am right. With the exception of the 3rd and 4th sets of the first match, every match has had the same (non) pattern. One team gets ahead and loses the lead. The other team having caught up, can’t build on it. At the end a random team wins. Or something similar. In Match 3, Jastrzębski lead 2-1, but lost in five sets. In Match 4, Kędzierzyn led 2-0, but lost in five sets.
In late breaking news Bełchatów, to the surprise of exactly nobody, wrapped up the series against Rzeszów in four matches to book a place in the finals, and perhaps more importantly a few extra days preparation for the Champions League Final Four. The stats of the matches are here and here.
The reality is that the two teams are really evenly matched. There is no one outstanding player or one outstanding game phase that either team can rely on for a whole match. For Kędzierzyn, receiver Ruciak and opposite Jarosz have had outstanding periods over the four matches and setter Masny has for long periods controlled the offence really well and with it the Jastrzębski block, but never for a whole match. Other players have made important cameos. For Jastrzębski, middle blocker Czarnowski has been outstanding, especially in attack, for most of the series and opposite Yudin and receiver Abramov have been solid, again for long periods but without dominating.
The deciding match will be on Tuesday in Kędzierzyn. If forced at gunpoint, I think that maybe Jastrzębski has more experience and maybe a small advantage in coaching that may (or may not) prove decisive, but hopefully I’m never forced to anything at gunpoint.