Bulgaria’s Lionesses rout Czech Republic to eye World Champs ticket
2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Women
Samokov, Bulgaria, January 4, 2014. In what was the most anticipated match in Pool M, on Saturday the home heroines of Bulgaria beat the Czech Republic in straight sets (25-14, 25-19, and 25-22) at the Arena Samokov thereby making a huge step forward on their way to the qualify to the Final Round of the 2014 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship. In the other match of the day, Slovakia beat Belarus 3:1 (18-25, 25-18, 25-20, and 25-16) to stay in contention for second place in the Pool and also for a spot in the Final Round of the World Champs.
The match with the Czech Republic did not start so well for Bulgaria that made two straight errors before finding their tempo and leading the way 8:6 at the first technical time-out. After that, everything went just smoothly for the team mentored by Italian head coach Marcello Abbondanza that moved the score up to 16:10 at the second mandatory stop and rapidly cashed the final 25-14.
Bulgaria opened strong also in the second set (3:0) but the Czechs responded with four consecutive points to set the pace at the first technical time-out with the slimmest margin. After the break, the Czech players played good Volleyball but home star Emiliya Nikolova made it 11 all for Bulgaria. Bulgaria was up 16:12 at the second technical time-out and even though the Czechs cut their deficit to only two points, the “Lionesses” responded by widening their lead to 20:15 and 22:16; at 23:19 Czech star Aneta Havlickova made an error and Lora Kitipova cashed the first set ball for Bulgaria with an ace (25-19).
The third set followed a similar plot with Bulgaria off to a 2:0 lead before their opponents scored four in a row. The guests set the pace of the game at the first technical time-out (8:6) and they could keep control of the game also after the break (11:8). Finally Bulgaria got back on track with good play by Dobriana Rabadzhieva and Strashimira Filipova to level the score at 15 all. The Czechs nevertheless got back the lead (17:15, 21:18) before Bulgaria scored three in a row to restore the balance. Czech mentor Carlo Parisi stopped the game but it did not help as the home side added another two points to their count before Rabadzhieva sealed the final 3:0 with an ace (25-22).
Hristina Ruseva and Emiliya Nikolova paced Bulgaria with 12 points apiece while Czech star Aneta Havlickova top scored in the game with 19.
In the other match of the day Slovakia claimed their first victory in the tournament after losing to Bulgaria on Friday as the players around head coach Marek Rojko beat Belarus 3:1 (18-25, 25-18, 25-20, and 25-16).
Belarus actually caught a very promising start leading all the way through in the opening set (8:5, 16:9); Slovakia woke up by scoring three points in a row but could not compensate for their slow start so that Belarus wrapped it up at 25-18.
The course of the game changed completely in the second set where Slovakia was off to a 6:2 run and set the pace of the match at the first technical time-out (8:4). Belarus tried to fight their way back but Slovakia was up by six points at the second technical break, keeping a good pace up to the final 25-18.
The third set followed the same plot with Slovakia breaking away early on (8:3) before Belarus responded by drawing level at 11 all. However, the players around head coach Viktar Hancharou could not keep that pace and trailed 12:16 at the second technical time-out. Slovakia, on the other hand, showed a very good performance and comfortably cashed the 25-20 that sealed a 2:1 lead in sets.
After a very close start (5:5), Slovakia imposed once more their rule also in the fourth set (8:5, 10:5) and slowly but surely widened their lead up to six points at the second technical time-out (16:10). Belarus could not find a way to claw back and Slovakia cruised to the 25-16 for their first victory in the tournament.
Kristina Mikhailenko and Anastasiya Harelik top scored for Belarus in their losing effort with 13 points apiece while Michaela Abrhamova registered a match-high 21 points for Slovakia.
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