From Luxembourg, directly to the SuperFinals: Rychlicki's journey proves that anything is possible


Article Tue, Apr 16 2024
Author: Adrian Costeiu

Since 1990, only one team has won more than three titles in the CEV Champions League Men, Russian powerhouse Zenit Kazan. Three others – Belogorie Belgorod, Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn-Koźle and Trentino Itas – have won the trophy three times.

Now, Trentino, which managed a three-peat in 2009, 2010 and 2011, can finally add their fourth title, after conceding losses in the Super Finals in 2021 and 2022 against Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn-Koźle. In order to achieve their objective, they will face another Polish powerhouse, Jastrzębski Węgiel, in another fantastic edition of the Super Finals, this time in Antalya.

The Italian side has been one of the most consistent teams this season. They conceded only one loss in the 4th round, 2:3 against Asseco Resovia Rzeszów, and another one in the second leg of the semi-finals against Cucine Lube Civitanova, 2:3, when Trentino had already sealed their place in the Super Finals.

One of the secrets behind this excellent run of form was the transfer of opposite Kamil Rychlicki, from Perugia, who slotted in fantastically into the line-up and delivered some exquisite performances, with 26 points in the semi-final against domestic rivals Lube.

“I think until now we had a really great season. We were performing on a high level, I would say we played good in the most games we had until now. Regarding the Champions League, it is one step away, one big step however. For me personally it's nice to be here,” says Rychlicki.

Now 27 years old, the 2.04m tall opposite is entering the prime of his career, one which was definitely a special one. Both of Rychlicki’s parents were volleyball players, with his father, Jacek, winning the silver medal at the CEV EuroVolley Men in 1983, while playing for Poland.

Yet Trentino’s opposite has been born and bred in Luxembourg, a country where volleyball is not that prominent, far away from Poland’s knowhow and experience in nurtiuring young talents. Therefore, it was always going to be an uphill battle for Rychlicki to mould himself in the shape of a superstar.

“I have to say, maybe it was also lucky that I was playing and training Luxembourg because in the end, I was basically, if I can say it like that, one of the only guys who presented such a level at that young age. So obviously, everybody from outside of Luxembourg, I mean, it was easier for me to get attention from other people, from other teams,” says Trentino’s opposite.

“So, for sure, it's not easy. I have to say, and again, to be thankful that in that period of time, there was a nice atmosphere, a nice culture that was created in Luxembourg that pushed me and also all my team players to try and achieve a higher level, because before I'd seen it in Luxembourg.”

However, Rychlicki’s background in volleyball also helped him become the player he is now. The opposite says it is more about hard work than talent itself, yet watching volleyball in the arena and on TV since he was a kid and also having his brother play was exactly what he needed to find the proper motivation to succeed. 

“It was never any kind of pressure for my parents to choose that path or go that way. Even contrary, I would say they were very precautious to always determine that it's not always as easy and as easy as somebody could imagine. It's a long road to achieve and win something. So they were always telling me to be cautious,” adds Trentino’s star.

“Volleyball was always, let's say, a topic now at home. We watched many games. I was a big fan of any sport, of any ball sports, let's say, combat sports, football, volleyball. But somehow, I always after going to watch the games played by my brother. And I could not stop myself from going down to the court, take a ball, and then start playing on myself. And so I was pushing my parents to let me finally go and practice volleyball. And from the age of 8 years old, I am here.”

His impact was immediate for Trentino this season, as Rychlicki has made a fantastic pair on the court with Alessandro Michieletto, being the team’s top scorer, with 152 points, seven points more than his Italian teammate, with an average of 4.47 points per set in the European premium competition.

“I think and I hope there's always some space to go up to play better. So I hope this is not the prime and there is some room to grow. However, I'm personally satisfied with my performance,” says Rychlicki.

But what would a maiden title in the CEV Champions League Men mean for the opposite?

“You know, I was always dreaming of it. I was never sure if I will reach it. And I was always telling myself, look, just work and work and work some more. And if you're good enough one day, you will reach that level. So I just kept dreaming about all these titles, about these finals, to be able to play them one day. I have to say, in some sense, it feels unreal to today to be there, be part of it,” concludes Trentino’s opposite.