Victorious Poland Rules the 2023 VNL Grand Final, Bronze for Japan

Poland Triumphs in VNL 2023 Grand Final.

The 2023 Volleyball Nations League culminated in a grand victory for Poland, with the host nation achieving their first-ever gold medal in the tournament’s five-year history. Their triumph came after an intense match against the USA, leading the match with 25-23, 24-26, 25-18, 25-18. This momentous win occurred amidst a vibrant atmosphere in Gdansk, Poland, with more than 11,000 spectators filling the venue to its capacity.

The Decisive Match

In a thrilling showdown, Poland’s Jakub Kochanoweki was instrumental, effectively blocking Thomas Jaeschke’s attack at match point, securing Poland’s gold medal. Although the Polish team only managed one block more than the USA, their timing proved crucial, flipping the momentum of the game towards their favor.

Throughout the tournament, Poland held a solid performance, culminating in a 13-2 record. The USA, who previously played three rounds in Ottawa, Canada; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Anaheim, California, ended with a 10-2 record. They ousted France in the quarterfinals and Italy in the semifinals. However, their efforts fell short in the final match against Poland.

Here are some of the significant statistics from the match:

  • Kills: Poland (59) vs. USA (51)
  • Blocks: Poland (9) vs. USA (8)
  • Aces: Poland (7) vs. USA (3)

“Poland played great. Kaczmarek had an incredible match, and we couldn’t figure out how to stop him,” said USA coach John Speraw. “And they served the ball really, really well. Offensively they were difficult to slow down.”

Key Performers

Lukasz Kaczmarek stepped up for the injured team captain Bartosz Kurek, leading his team with an impressive record: 23 kills, a block, and an ace. Aleksander Sliwka contributed with 13 kills, six digs, and a block, while Kochanowski added four kills and an ace. Tomasz Fornal and Wilfredo Leon also made their contributions known with their respective stats.

For the USA, TJ DeFalco led his team with 13 kills, an ace, and seven digs. Aaron Russell and Matt Anerson both contributed nine kills each, with Russell adding two blocks and Anerson an ace.

“We’re quite disappointed because we had a nice opportunity to win VNL and came up short,” admitted Speraw. “I do think there were a lot of positives to build on over the course of the tournament and a lot to be learned from tonight’s match.”

Tournament Accolades

The tournament honored several standout performers:

  • Most Valuable Player: Pawel Zatorski (Poland)
  • Best Setter: Micah Christenson (USA)
  • Best Opposite: Łukasz Kaczmarek (Poland)
  • Best Outside Hitters: Aleksander Śliwka (Poland) and Yuki Ishikawa (Japan)
  • Best Middle Blockers: David Smith (USA) and Jakub Kochanowski (Poland)
  • Best Libero: Pawel Zatorski (Poland)

Pawel Zatorski was the first libero to receive the MVP honor in the event’s last five editions.

The Bronze Match: Japan vs Italy

Japan (12-3) secured the bronze medal, defeating Italy (10-5) in a four-set match. Despite being outblocked 13-4, Japan managed to maintain a 54-53 kills advantage and a 9-7 lead in aces. Yuki Ishikaway shined for Japan with 21 kills, contributing to the team’s first medal in the tournament’s five-year history and their first international medal since 2009.

Looking Forward

For the USA, the next focus is the NORCECA Championship from September 3-11, followed by a trip to Japan for the Road to Paris Olympic qualifier at the end of the month. Meanwhile, Poland will participate in the European Championship in Bulgaria, Israel, Italy, and North Macedonia from August 18-26. Japan will participate in the Asian Championship in Iran, while Italy will host the European Championship.

“We’ll evaluate and train as we head into NORCECA,” Speraw said, demonstrating the team’s determination moving forward.

Despite the challenges, each team showed a remarkable spirit of competition, exemplifying the thrill and sportsmanship of the sport. With the 2023 Volleyball Nations League wrapped up, fans worldwide now look forward to the forthcoming events and the exciting moments they will undoubtedly bring.

Detailed Match Statistics

Poland vs. USA: Scoreline


Poland vs. USA: Performance Comparison


Player Performances


Lukasz Kaczmarek, replacing injured team captain Bartosz Kurek, played a significant role in Poland’s victory. He scored 23 kills, a block, and an ace. His performance was a shining example of an athlete stepping up when needed most.

Lukasz Kaczmarek2311
Aleksander Sliwka1316
Jakub Kochanoweki41
Tomasz Fornal71
Wilfredo Leon322


The USA showcased commendable skills and determination, with TJ DeFalco leading the team with 13 kills, an ace, and seven digs. Aaron Russell and Matt Anerson also made key contributions to the team.

TJ DeFalco1317
Aaron Russell92
Matt Anerson91
Thomas Jaeschke725
Max Holt43
David Smith6

Historical Performance: Poland vs. USA

This encounter was a rematch of sorts. The USA had lost the previous VNL final to France, and their loss to Poland marks a repeated disappointment for the team. However, the history of their performance in the VNL paints a picture of a consistently strong team that has the potential to secure the gold in the future.


As for Poland, this victory marks their first gold in the VNL, demonstrating their rise in the international volleyball scene and their potential to continue their success in the coming years.


Each tournament serves as a learning experience, and both Poland and the USA are likely to analyze these games closely to further improve their strategies and performances.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

Share this article

More News
More links
Follow us