If it were football, Vital Heynen would have advised his team to play for time to save the victory over the distance.

But that's not possible in volleyball, where a match doesn't last 90 plus X minutes, but until the last ball has hit the ground.

Achim Dreis

sports editor.

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And so the national coach had to witness at the World Championships in Lodz/Poland how his women's volleyball team won the last preliminary round game against Canada after an impressive start (25:12 in the first set) and a balanced middle part (26:24, 23:25 in the second round). and three) still slipped out of my hands.

Relaxation returns

"We were missing a set," said Heynen, recapitulating the 3-2 defeat, which could easily have been a 3-0 win.

"We've lost our strength," said captain Jennifer Janiska about the final phase (18:25, 9:15).

"It's volleyball," Heynen said.

"If you lead 2-0 and let the others in, then the game turns."

With the two opening wins against Bulgaria (3:1) and Kazakhstan (3:0), the place in the second phase of the tournament was secured early on, which "tension dropped" and "relaxation returned", as Janiska was pleased.

However, only the results against the teams that have also qualified will be taken into the intermediate round - and despite strong performances, especially against Serbia, the Germans lost 0:3 to world champion Serbia and Olympic champion USA.

"We are satisfied with the results, but not happy," said Heynen.

He had hoped to progress third in a difficult group, now it was fourth.

With only one point (for the 2:3 against Canada), the Germans start the intermediate round as eighth and last in group F.

There it's against four teams, "all of which are a bit above us", as Heynen puts it, "but not by much".

The German “Schmetterlinge”, who are in twelfth place in the world rankings, will play this Tuesday (7 p.m. live on Sportdeutschland.TV) against the sixth-ranked Turkish women.

After that, they continue against Thailand on Wednesday (14th), on Friday against the Dominican Republic (9th) and finally against hosts Poland (13th) on Saturday.

Four wins are in there, but also four defeats.

"It will be interesting," promises Heynen.

Development on a broad basis

The Belgian's volleyball philosophy includes the unpredictability of his teams.

And in turn, that the attacks should lead to many arms.

Four players scored in double figures against Canada, but none outstanding.

In general, Heynen wants to develop the game on a broad basis: "It's important that everyone plays."

Nevertheless, something like a regular cast has emerged.

22-year-old Hanna Orthmann and Lina Alsmeier, who was only a year older, played mostly in the outside attack – so captain Janiska had to sit on the bench more often than expected.

In the middle block, Camilla Weitzel, who was also only 22 years old but was 1.95 meters tall, and Marie Schölzel, who was 1.90 meters long, made a solid impression.

"We did a very good job of blocking and attacking," said Heynen.

"Acceptance and attack could be even better." The two Schwerin players Pia Kästner and Anna Pogarny are considered to be permanent fixtures in the key positions of passing and libera.

What the German team lacked in the preliminary round was an outstanding point collector.

Heynen often played without a real diagonal, so that Kim Drewniok and especially the reactivated Saskia Hippe did not play for too long, but mostly played Lena Stigrot as the third outside attacker.

Fit for the Olympics

After 15 successful years coaching men’s teams – highlights being World Cup gold with Poland in 2018 and bronze with Germany in 2014 – Heynen sees himself as a women’s coach just as much in the learning process as his newly assembled team.

He sees the current World Cup in the Netherlands and Poland as an opportunity for his players to gain experience at a high level in order to then be fit for the Olympic Games in Paris.

There hasn't been a German women's team at the Olympics since 2004 in Athens.

And Heynen himself had missed the dream goal in 2016 with the German men.

With Poland, in turn, he failed as world champion in the Olympic quarterfinals in Tokyo 2021 at eventual gold winners France.

The 53-year-old Belgian had expressed the expectation of his players before the current World Cup "that we will get a little better in every game".

Now he said: "We're on our way." He perceives the atmosphere in the team as "relaxed".

For him, the fact that he cannot be happy with the results is also part of it: "As a coach, you always want things to get better."