DThe most unusual job on the German national volleyball team is currently performed by Paul Sens. He acts as a contact to the outside world. While the 17 players and the eight-person supervisory staff around national coach Felix Koslowski have been setting up in the hotel and hall bubble of Rimini for a week as part of the Nations League – and will not be out there for the next four weeks – the 24- Year-old a holiday apartment in the tourist stronghold on the Italian Adriatic Sea. Sens, who works as Ko-trainer Koslowskis at Schweriner SC in everyday life in the Bundesliga, has to do the shopping, fulfill special requests and, above all, do the piles of laundry. Because the offer to use the hotel service exceeded the budget of the German delegation: “30,000 euros just for laundry,” says Koslowski: “For us, that’s a lot of money.”
It speaks for the head coach’s down-to-earth attitude that he takes care of detailed questions himself, but also for the precarious financial situation of a smaller ball sport in Germany. “Lingerie is always an issue at a tournament”, Koslowski grants insights into the logistics: “This time it’s an even bigger one.” Because his crew has to play 15 games in four weeks and train in between, which causes the 37-year-old to joke : “We really have the jerseys washed and not just aired.”
The start in a fresh outfit is already halfway successful. The first match against Russia was lost 3-0, but then against the Netherlands (3-2) and Belgium (3-0) a narrow and highly superior victory followed. The newly launched Nations League comprises a total of 16 teams, in which all teams of rank and name take part. As twelfth in the world rankings, Germany is still just one of the dozen teams that have been seeded, something Koslowski is proud of: “We fought hard to achieve this place”. It is important to defend or expand this in order to improve the starting position for the 2024 Olympics.
First of all, however, it is important to survive the mammoth tournament in Rimini, which is played in the mode everyone against everyone, before there is a final round of the best four, as unscathed as possible. “The load is significantly higher than usual,” says the trainer about the rhythm with three games in a row before training can take place on three days without games. The team is led by outside attacker Jennifer Janiska. The captain has successful international positions in Italy and Turkey and most recently led the Dresdner SC to the German championship. “The desire is there,” said the 27-year-old before the competition under very special conditions. Star attacker Louisa Lippmann, who had stressful seasons in China and Russia during the pandemic, is spared on the advice of the medical department.
In order to avoid a camp fever on the Adriatic, the team management tried to prevent it as best as possible. Sports equipment and board games were packed in the large coach with which the self-proclaimed “butterflies” from the training camp in Vilsbiburg made their eight-hour journey across the Brenner. At the destination, in addition to a common room with table tennis and a coffee machine, the hotel complex also has a pool and a private beach, so that something like a school trip atmosphere can arise with all the effort. At least on the days when there are no games.