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27/09/2017 11:28
Poland scoring machine Smarzek is hungry for more
2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women

Baku, Azerbaijan, September 27, 2017. No Volleyball team can hope to make it far into the European Championship without having decent attack power. In the case of Team Poland, they can count on Malwina Smarzek to do the job in this element of the game, although calling her spiking potential “decent” would be an understatement.

The Polish opposite caught much attention from the media and even the more casual Volleyball fans in Poland and abroad after scoring as many as 36 points in a single match (against Germany) of the women’s EuroVolley Pool phase, backing it up with another 25 caps in the following bout against Hungary. At this moment, she remains the top scorer of the tournament hosted by Azerbaijan and Georgia on 78 points.

What adds even more flavour to this feat is the fact that Malwina is making her debut in the competition, just like the majority of her teammates, who make for a young (with an average age of 24) and rather unexperienced squad. Smarzek, however, can by no means complain about having lacked opportunities to hone her skills. As the Polish League champion and National Cup winner (with Chemik POLICE), she is already one of the more recognisable players in the country, with a perspective of a great career which began to shine a few years back, most notably at the Girls’ U18 Youth European Volleyball Championship in 2013, where her team scooped the gold medal.

Poland has now advanced to the #EuroVolleyW Play-offs, but the Polish opposite is far from being satisfied yet: “If it really was that good, we would have won against Azerbaijan,” she says. Smarzek also shows modesty and a practical approach to praises of her individual performances, which spread through Polish Internet and media – some of them going as far as calling her the ‘new Glinka’.

“When I’m at a tournament like this, I only keep in touch with friends and family. I try not to follow what goes on in the media and when I see something written about our team or my game, I just do not read it. I have learned that this type of thing can mess with your head, which is the last thing you need. There used to be situations when after a match won, when I was satisfied with my performance, I would read something negative and all my self-esteem would go down. This is why now I mostly focus on myself, because it is me playing there inside the court, not those writing about us. Maybe I will give some of it a read when we are back in Poland.”

Poland’s next challenge is at hand, with a Play-off match against Turkey coming up tonight at the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku. Poland has yet to get even with that opponent, having lost to them two years ago, also in Baku, in the final bout of the European Games. “I was not there at that time due to an injury,” says Malwina. “The national teams of Poland and Turkey are different from who they were two years ago – especially in our case as only three players from that squad are with us here now. The Turkish team did not undergo such a dramatic change, but they do have a new coach, which is not without a meaning.”

The Polish opposite would of course not share her team’s game plan for Turkey match but she is positive that they will step onto the court with no fear of the opponents. “We will go out there and fight. Maybe I can score just a few more points than in that first match and it will be enough,” she concluded with a laugh.

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