Brock Badgers men’s volleyball welcomed the junior team of Polish professional volleyball club Jastrzębski Węgiel to Bob Davis Gymnasium on January 10 night. The Badgers competed with the Polish side in an exhibition match as part of the Polish club’s tour of Ontario.
“I was approached by the organizer of their tour to see if we would host an event here, so we said sure we would do that,” said Brock head coach Doug Hanes.
“The University got behind it, the people that run the facility did a great job and Polish TV was here which was nice.”
Hanes says the Polish team has had stops at McMaster, Redeemer College, the University of Toronto and Mohawk College so far on their tour.
As for the match at Brock, the Badgers managed to hold their own against a talented Polish squad that featured four Junior National Team members, ultimately falling 3-1 by scores of 25-19, 27-29, 25-19, 25-17.
On this night, though, it wasn’t the final score that was the top priority, as the experience of international competition was of more value to both teams. Unique to the average game you’d see taking place on Brock’s campus, the players of each team exchange gifts prior to the match and the teams joined together for a commemorative photo at its conclusion.
“Anytime anyone can have a chance to play in an international match is something pretty rare,” said Hanes.
In spite of the special night, the looming OUA schedule was still in the back of Hanes and the Badgers’ minds.
“For us it was a tune up because we have to win this weekend,” said Hanes. “So for that reason I didn’t let our starters play any more than two sets.”
With two important games on the weekend, Hanes took his starters out after a successful second set and allowed for the rest of the roster to gain experience.
This weekend Brock will host Western and Windsor for a potentially season shifting pair of matches.
“To stay in the playoff picture we really need to come out of the weekend .500, otherwise we’re really in a tough spot,” said Hanes.
The Brock men’s team will play at 4:00 p.m. on Jan. 12 and 3:00 p.m. on Jan. 13.
Poland is the two time defending world champions in men’s volleyball. Jastrzębski Węgiel’s senior men’s team was founded in 1949 and has competed in PlusLiga – the highest level of professional volleyball in Poland – since the 1997-98 season. They are the 21st ranked club in European men’s volleyball.