The return of Wolosz will make Poland even stronger at the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Arguably the best Polish player of the last decade, Joanna Wolosz wasn’t on the court when her country’s national team celebrated its biggest success in the period, taking bronze at the Volleyball Nations League two months ago.

Fully recovered from the hand injury that sidelined her at the start of the international season, the star setter is now ready to lead Poland to an even bigger goal – thriving on the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament and securing a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

  • Watch all the matches of the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament on VBTV.

The podium appearance at the VNL Finals, in Arlington, Texas, was the culmination of what have been years of solid progress displayed by the Polish national team, which aims to return to the glory days it had in the 1950s and 1960s, when they won two Olympic and three World Championship medals. The historic campaign, which represented the biggest result for the country’s women’s team in more than 50 years, was strongly celebrated by Wolosz.

“It was an amazing feeling and I was cheering on them from the first match to the end,” the setter told Volleyball World. “Watching from my couch or during my physio sessions was a bit strange and a completely new experience, but I was just feeling pure happiness and huge pride of my team. I hope this result can make a big impact in our team and in volleyball in my country.”

With Wolosz back on the court, the Poles followed up on their podium appearance at the VNL with a fifth-place finish at the CEV European Championship. The result wasn’t perceived as a success for the team, but has positively impacted their preparation for the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

The event begins on Saturday, in Łódź, and a top-two finish would take Poland back to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, setting the Europeans up to make history for a second time in the season.

“To me, this is the biggest goal and the biggest dream,” Wolosz reflected. “I feel that our team is ready to make this step forward and secure a spot at the Olympics to compete next year in Paris. We obviously know it’s going to be a very difficult tournament with several strong teams, but I think that we’ve been doing a good job since last year and that puts us closer to Paris. Securing a spot at the Olympics would be a great thing for our team, our Federation and our country.”

The Polish rise coincides with the arrival of Italian head coach Stefano Lavarini. Under his guidance, the Poles have, besides finishing third on the VNL this year, ranked seventh at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball World Championship, getting their best result since 1962.

The progress, however, wouldn’t be possible without a talented squad, which features the likes of opposite Magdalena Stysiak, middle blocker Agnieszka Korneluk, outside hitter Olivia Różański and libero Maria Stenzel and is considered by Wolosz the strongest she has got to work with since she joined the national team, back in 2010.

“I had the honor of starting my national team career with several of Poland’s greatest players, such as (Malgorzata) Glinka, (Katarzyna) Skowrońska, (Katarzyna) Skorupa, (Aleksandra) Jagielo and (Anna) Werblińska and that was an amazing experience,” the Polish captain said. “I learned so much from them and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. But I always prefer to look to the present and the future and I absolutely love our squad now and the work we’ve been doing with Lavarini. If I had to pick the most talented group, it would be the current one.”


The connection between fans and players will be a huge asset for Poland in Łódź

In Łódź, Poland will face strong competition for the two spots in Paris, playing against reigning Olympic champions the United States, 2022 VNL champions Italy, Colombia, Germany, Thailand, Korea and Slovenia, who will be their first opponents, on Saturday.

In order to succeed, the Polish will rely on what could be their main weapon during the most important days of their recent history – their passionate and loud fans.

“Our fans are amazing and they always create the best atmosphere during matches,” Wolosz remarked. “They helped us a lot at the World Championship last year, when they were like an extra player on the court for us, and I’m sure we’ll push ourselves to the limit for them. Playing such an important tournament in front of our friends, family and a crowd that’s always behind us is a huge thing for our team. We’re on a very tough pool and any team can cause an upset, so we need to be ready for everything.”

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