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10/05/2013 23:53
Estonia stops Bulgaria's triumphal march in Sofia
2013 FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship - European Qualification

Sofia, Bulgaria, May 10, 2013. On Friday Estonia upset the home heroes of Bulgaria as well as the local audience at “Hristo Botev” sports hall in Bulgaria’s capital city by cruising to a dramatic 3:2 win (25-21, 18-25, 18-25, 25-20, and 15-7) thereby stopping the march of the local side in the tournament where a ticket to the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship is at stake. Germany claimed the other match of the day but had to fight hard before cruising past Romania 3:1 (25-16, 25-18, 22-25, and 25-22). With their second wins in the competition Estonia and Germany remain in contention for making it to Ankara and Izmir, the venues of the World Championship scheduled for late August.  

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Estonia and Bulgaria engaged in a neck-to-neck race right from the start of their clash with the guests displaying great skills in defense as well as in blocking. Estonia got up by five points before the second technical time-out of the opening set exploiting also the poor reception showed by the local heroes. However, Bulgaria narrowed the gap by scoring three consecutive points but once more the guys mentored by Dragan Nesic lacked consistency in defense so that Estonia could keep the lead. Though Bulgaria drew level at 21, Estonia played superbly in the final stages of the set to bring it home at 25-21.
The plot of the game did not change much in the second set where the teams played point for point before Bulgaria claimed a very narrow margin at the first mandatory stop (8:6). However, the local favorites suffered once more a series of setbacks in reception with Estonia going up 16:13; after that stop, Bulgaria nevertheless got back on track and helped by a few mistakes of their opponents could go for the provisional 1:1 in sets (25-18).
The tension was to be perceived in the air and Bulgaria’s Zlatko Kyosev even got a yellow card in the third set. Bulgaria went up 8:5 and a series of great serves contributed by Rozalin Penchev did help the home side move up by eight points, thereby paving the way for the final 25-18 and 2:1.
Bulgaria stretched that momentum to the early stages of the fourth set (8:4) but after losing focus, they did see their opponent storm back and level the score at 9 all. Some Bulgarian mistakes could help Estonia set the tempo of the game by the second technical time-out (16:13) and after a few long and dramatic rallies, another Bulgarian player – this time Georgi Seganov – received a yellow card. Estonia profited of the situation to claim a 5-point lead and finished it easy at 25-20 to call for the tie-break.
After a good start by Bulgaria (2:1), Estonia got to the front by exploiting good serves by Robert Täht (5:3); the score stood at 8:6 for the guests as they switched sides of the court and a series of excellent blocks paved the way for the success of the team mentored by Urmas Tali (15-7). Rozalin Penchev top scored in the end with 15 points while Robert Täht paced Estonia with 15.  

In the first match of the day Germany claimed their second consecutive win in the tournament edging Romania in four sets. Germany started out strong (8:4) and slowly but surely widened the gap (16:7) with this margin of nine points being kept until the very end of the opening set (25-16).   
The guys mentored by head coach Adrian Pfleghar quickly imposed their pace also in the early stages of the second set (4:0, 8:5) and eventually widened their lead up to seven points showing excellent attacks and a solid defense. With Yannick Harms – who on Thursday had served for 15 consecutive times against Israel – Germany cruised to a terrific 25-8 to move up 2:0 in sets.
Romania responded well in set 3 going up 8:7 but Germany quickly found back control of the game claiming a margin of four points which nevertheless was reduced to two by the second technical time-out. Romania showed great determination and composure fighting their way back and claiming the set at 25-22 to re-open the fate of the game.  
To follow up on such “resurrection”, Romania started out very aggressively also in set 4 (5:1, 8:1) to vanish the effects of a time-out asked by German head coach Pfleghar. However, after the first technical time-out, Germany got back on track scoring four in a row and a neck-to-neck race did continue until 20 all. There Germany went up by two points and eventually booked their second win in the tournament to re-assert their ambition to qualify for the World Championship. Yannick Harms and Phillip Trenkler top scored for the winning side with 18 points apiece. 

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