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GB beaten by volleyball favourites

August 4, 2012 13:30 pm

Poland's volleyball fans turned up the noise inside Earls Court and their players turned on the style to beat Great Britain 3-0 (25-16 25-19 25-18).

Thousands of Polish fans shook the temporary seating to its foundations as they cheered the tournament favourites to victory win, with the scenes inside the exhibition centre more out of Warsaw than West London.

Poland are already in the quarter-finals and destined for more on the strength of this showing but for the host nation, who fought the odds to make the tournament, the positives were also numerous.

Star man Dami Bakare rose to the challenge, using all of his 12-foot jump at the net, while taking 53 points off a side they trail in every department offers tremendous hope for the future.

In the build-up to the game Britain's players had spoken of taking on the best team they would ever be likely to face and so it proved, with the eastern Europeans storming into a lead they would never relinquish.

The brilliant 6ft 9in Bartosz Kurek immediately established himself in the middle of the net and, with support coming from 6ft 11in Marcin Mozdzonek and 6ft 9in Gregorz Kosok, Britain could barely see the floor let alone find it.

They were 6-2 down when coach Harry Brokking took them off for a breather and when they returned things got no easier, with Jakub Jarosz spiking twice in a row to put them 4-12 down.

Captain Ben Pipes eased some of the pressure with a cute early tip to make it 8-15 but such a points difference would be hard to turn around against any side, let alone Poland, and they duly took the set 25-16.

But despite losing the opener, Britain's players were clearly relishing being part of such an atmosphere and, whether it was adrenalin-fuelled or not, they went toe-to-toe with their opponents at the start of the second. Spikes from Bakare and Andy Pink put them out to 4-1 - a rare moment of ascendancy - before Poland fought back.

Jarosz's spike was so powerful that it knocked libero Dan Hunter off the court but, despite punching well above their weight, the hosts refused to whimper. Hunter responded with a brilliant retrieval that allowed Bakare to spike back to 8-9 and when Pipes and Mark McGivern both had success at the net, it was 10-10.

Bakare, so stifled in the first three games, was inspired on the right side and slammed to the floor again for 13 and then 14-all, with even the Polish fans respectful of how Britain were taking the game to their side.

But they quickly had something to cheer about again, with Poland securing a 25-19 second set win.

Again GB were spirited at the start of the third, with Bakare spiking and then serving an ace to 5-7, but with Kurek able to loop the meekest of tips into open court whenever he chose, they were never able to bridge the gap.

It was quickly 9-16 and no matter how many times Hunter left the court to recover the ball from improbable angles, he got up to find it coming straight back at him. It was not all one way, though, with Bakare brilliant up high and getting Britain back to 14-20, before Poland saw it out 18-25.