Aleksandar Atanasijevic (source:

Aleksandar Atanasijevic (source:

With the last game of the quarterfinal playoffs played on Wednesday, the Polish PlusLiga semifinals are now set. In best-of-three duels for the spots in the final, Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle will meet Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie, while Jastrzebski Wegiel Jastrzebie-Zdroj take on PGE Skra Belchatow. The first matches of the semifinal series will be played on Saturday.

In the most interesting of the quarterfinal playoffs, Skra emerged the winners of a tight five-set decider on Tuesday with Serbian star Aleksandar Atanasijevic running the snow. Indykpol AZS Olsztyn had surprised their opponents in Belchatow with a 3-1 upset in the first game of the series, but Skra came back to shut out the hosts in the away match near Olsztyn and prompt a deciding third match, back in Belchatow.

Indykpol, who finished the regular season in sixth place, clearly intended to produce another upset of third-placed Skra. However, Atanasijevic and his teammates had a different view on the matter. As the battle unfolded, the first set was pushed deep into overtime. The hosts had to survive three opponent set points before taking the matter into their own hands and taking the lead. Indykpol tied it back by the narrowest of margins in the second set. The two teams exchanged two more sets to push it to five. In the tie-breaker, Skra fought back from a 10-7 deficit to finally celebrate with a two-point difference for the 3-2 (29-27, 23-25, 25-19, 22-25, 15-13) victory.

The Serbian opposite delivered as many as five serving aces and, spiking at a 51% success rate, produced the match high of 28 points, earning the MVP nomination. His teammates, Polish international Mateusz Bieniek and Iranian international Milad Ebadipour added 14 points apiece. On the other side of the net, Polish opposite Karol Butryn and American national team outside Torey DeFalco scored 23 and 22 times, respectively.

“I can say that it was one of the most difficult matches in my life. It was a really great battle! I am convinced that we also have a chance in the semifinals, because now we have achieved a high level of volleyball and we can present ourselves even better. We should not pay attention to who we are going to play against.” Aleksandar Atanasijevic, opposite of PGE Skra Belchatow

Skra will now go up against regular season runners-up and defending champions Jastrzebski Wegiel, who also had to resort to a third match in order to resolve their quarterfinal series against seventh-placed Trefl Gdansk. Led by their opposite Bartlomiej Lipinski with 23 points, Trefl came back from two sets down in the first match in Jastrzebie-Zdroj to achieve a sensational comeback for a 3-2 (26-28, 18-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-13) win. However, star playmaker Benjamin Toniutti of France and his teammates left no more room for surprises and hammered out straight-set victories in the next two matches to win the series.

Fourth-placed Aluron managed two four-set wins over fifth-placed Asseco Resovia Rzeszow to advance to the semis. Serbian outside Uros Kovacevic was the hero of the home match nailing 27 points towards the hard-fought 3-1 (27-25, 24-26, 25-20, 27-25) victory. His 19 points in the away match were outdone only by his Argentinean teammate Facundo Conte’s 20 towards a final score of 3-1 (19-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-22).

“We will approach the semifinals with less of a weight on our shoulders. Our minimum goal has already been achieved. But I hope somebody will finally deal with ZAKSA... and I hope it will be us.” Dawid Konarski, opposite of Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie

Reigning European champions and regular season winners ZAKSA’s quarterfinal against eighth-placed GKS Katowice did not go completely without difficulties either. With Aleksander Sliwka and Lukasz Kaczmarek spearheading the attacks, they mastered an emphatic shutout at home, but in the away game, they had to fight back from a set down and rely on middle Norbert Huber’s fantastic first tempo attacks and monster blocks to emerge with a 3-1 (27-29, 25-18, 25-20, 25-19) victory.