PGE Skra won the Polish Volleyball League title nine times. The club became winners of Polish Cup seven times and they won three Polish Supercups. Those achievements make PGE Skra one of the most successful Polish teams in XXI century. The players have written a beautiful history of the club and they cocreated the history of Polish National Volleyball Team (with its main part in 2014 and 2018, when the Poles won the World Championship). What is important is that it is still in the making.
RKS Skra, the multi-section club, was founded in 1930. In its first years, the leading section was football section and only in 1957 a men’s volleyball team was set up. Twenty years later the football section was separated from RKS Skra and joined Bełchatów Lignite Mine. In 1991, Bełchatów Power Station took charge of the club and it started the club’s rapid development. The founded club (under the name of EKS Skra) made progress to the Third Tier of the Polish League in 1994, three years later the club got promoted to the Second Tier and in 1999 to the First League (Serie A), which is the Top Tier of Polish Volleyball League. First season was a surprise and the club got relegated, but not for long, because they won the promotion immediately. Another surprise was when the club won the bronze medal of the Polish Volleyball League in the 2001-02 season.
In the following years the club became one of the top teams in Poland, regularly fighting for the highest place at the end of the season. After the six place in the 2002-03 season, Skra finished fourth in the next season, losing the bronze medal to AZS Częstochowa, and appeared in the Polish Cup final, which meant that the club would appear for the third time in a row in European volleyball competitions (CEV Cup). On 10 September 2004, EKS Skra Bełchatów transformed into a sport public company and became known under the name of KPS Skra Bełchatów SSA.
Beginnig of the Golden Years
The 2004-05 season turned out to be the beginning of the amazing period in the history of PGE Skra Bełchatów. That season, first time in history, the team won the Polish League, as well as the Polish Cup (in both competitions Skra beat AZS Olsztyn). Ireneusz Mazur was the coach. Next season, the team (playing under the name BOT Skra Bełchatów) won the same trophies. Second time in a row the Polish League title went to Bełchatów (Skra beat Jastrzębski Węgiel in four matches), as well as the Polish Cup. Reaching Champions League quarter-finals was a huge achievement for the club.
Another date to remember in the history of the club is 14th August 2006, when the club changed its home ground. Since that day, Skra have played in Energia Hall (11 Dąbrowskiego Street, Bełchatów). Under the new coach, Daniel Castellani, Skra won the Polish League title once again (third time in a row) and also the Polish Cup. Skra played in Champions League, too, but got out of the competition in the first play-off round.
Next season, now under the name of PGE Skra Bełchatów, the club finished with another championship, but this time without the Polish Cup – Skra lost to Jastrzębski Węgiel 2:3. In 2008, Skra appeared in its first final competition of the Champions League (played in Łódź). Bełchatów finished third.
In 2008-09, Skra once again (for the fifth time In a row) won the Polish League and, for the fourth time, Skra won the Polish Cup. Unfortunately, the team got out of the CEV Champions League in the second play-off round, losing to Iskra Odintsovo. After that season, Daniel Castellani was not Skra coach anymore (he became the coach of the Polish National Team), but his assistant, Jacek Nawrocki, took charge.
In 2009, PGE Skra Bełchatów won a really special award. At DEMES Sport Business Awards Gala, the club was chosen the best organised club in Poland. In September, Skra won (for the third time in a row) Zdzisław Ambroziak Memorial, a friendly competition, and two months later Skra finished second in Club World Championship in Doha, Qatar. The club won another Polish Championship, but this time it came without glory in Polish Cup – Skra lost to Resovia Rzeszów in quarter-finals. In 2010, the executives of the club decided that the team would play its Champions League matches in Atlas Arena, a modern hall in Łódź. That decision could not be more successful, because the three group matches were watched by around 33 500 fans. This is the place where the final round of CEV Champions League took place. However, due to the Smoleńsk Plane Crash (among the victims were the President of Poland and his wife) the matches were not played until May. PGE Skra, once again, finished third.
In the 2010-11 season, PGE Skra won the Polish Cup and its seventh Polish League title, beating ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle in four matches. Next season, they won the Polish Cup again, but this time they lost the league final to Asseco Resovia Rzeszów – after seven years of total dominance in the Polish League, it was someone else who became Champions of Poland. Third time in history, PGE Skra was the hosts of the final four of the CEV Champions League and finished second, losing to Zenit Kazan just 2-3 (after a questionable decision at the very end of the game). The 2012-13 season was one of the most disappointing seasons in the club’s history. Although PGE Skra won bronze medals in Club World Cup in Qatar, they finished fifth in the Polish League.
Many different subjects were raised before the start of the new season after a really poor campaign. PGE Skra didn’t start the season as a title-contender. Miguel Angel Falasca, who in the previous season was a PGE Skra player, became the coach. Two Argentines, Facundo Conte and Nicolas Uriarte, were signed. Mariusz Wlazły, previously playing as a receiver, played as a spiker again and helped the team to win the eighth league title.
PGE Skra started the 2014-15 season with four World Champions. Mariusz Wlazły, Michał Winiarski, Karol Kłos and Andrzej Wrona came back with gold medals, but also a bit fatigued. All the people knew that it had to put a stamp on the team's performances during a long season. It all started well, though, because Skra beat ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle 3-1 in the Supercup game and in the regular season PGE Skra would beat all the teams. The worst form came in the worst moment – play-off round in the Polish League, final phase of the Polish Cup and CEV Champions League Final Four. The players came back from Berlin and Gdańsk without any medal, and in the league, having lost to Lotos Trefl Gdańsk, they could only fight for the third place against Jastrzębski Węgiel. This series was full of plot twists and the fifth match was needed to find out the better team. Fortunately, it was PGE Skra who won the bronze medal.
PGE Skra motto is „more than volleyball, more than passion” and this means that the club activities do not concern just sport. Since 2012, PGE Skra have cooperated with UNICEF as the first European Volleyball club. A charity match between PGE Skra and Poland National Team took place on 16 December 2012 in Częstochowa as a result of a successful cooperation between the club and UNICEF. In 2011 the club started to organise regular (yearly) Fans Meetings that create a special atmosphere and give a chance to meet other fans and talk to the players.
To Heaven from Hell
How will the fans remember the 2015-16 season? 7th Polish Cup, 10th season in CEV Champions League and 12th medal in the Polish League. Once again, PGE Skra proved that they remain in the top group of volleyball teams not only in Poland, but in all Europe.
The route started in Wrocław, where PGE Skra played in the Polish Cup final against ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle. The beginning was not satisfying for Bełchatów, but, thankfully, the first set (which we lost 25-12) did not kill all the hope. The next set looked completely different and it was a fight that deserved the Polish Cup final. PGE Skra won the match after a tie-break (in which they were losing 3-8 at some point!). Bełchatów won the Polish Cup for the seventh time, which is the number of AZS Olsztyn wins as well.
PGE Skra was really close to achieve the same round of CEV Champions League as they did last year (Final Four). Their 10th appearance in this competition was finished in top seven. What is important, PGE Skra was the only team that beat Zenit Kazan, the winners of the competition. What is even more important is that the win was on their ground! Unfortunately, Zenit was the better team in the second match, but we need to remind that on the stands our fans created an amazing atmosphere. The match was seen by 12 000 people!
In the regular season of the Polish League we could see how thin is the line that separates winning from losing. Before the start of the season no-one could imagine that the final order of the table will be decided in the very last match of the season and the teams will not only fight for points, but also for sets. The PGE Skra players didn’t play in the final because of one set and all they could fight for was a bronze medal. PGE Skra destroyed Lotos Trefl Gdańsk in that round – they won all three matches without losing a set and they needed only 3 hours and 49 minutes to do this! Mariusz Wlazły was the leader of the team in that fight, in those three games he got 50 points. How easy for the PGE Skra players the round against Lotos Trefl was is best understood when one realises that in four out of nine won sets, the opposition players couldn’t even reach 15 points (and one set finished 25-10). The bronze medal won by the players was the 12th that PGE Skra won in the Polish League in last 15 years.
The 2017/2018 season was also very good for PGE Skra. The team won the title of the Polish Championship for the ninth time, and took the second place in the Polish Cup. In the next season, the team will represent Poland in the CEV Champions League. The team is followed by five world champions (Artur Szalpuk, Grzegorz Łomacz, Jakub Kochanowski, Mariusz Wlazły and Karol Kłos). Already at the beginning of the 2018/2019 season, PGE Skra has once again won the Polish Super Cup and we hope that this is not the end of the club's successes.
PGE Skra is still one of the most successful Polish volleyball teams. With nine gold, one silver and three bronze medals, their record is worse than only two clubs, both from Warsaw: Legia and AZS AWF. – I believe that the next years will still be successful for us. I was a very difficult season for PGE Skra. I’m really satisfied with what we achieved. I’d like to congratulate the players, the staff, the fans and all the sponsors of PGE Skra – Konrad Piechocki, President of the Board, summed up.