Getting to know – Scoring machine Nikola Gjorgiev
2016 CEV Volleyball European League - Men
Varna, Bulgaria, July 1, 2016. Tired, but happy and confident – Former Y.R. of Macedonia team captain Nikola Gjorgiev extended a so far successful European League campaign with his team as on Friday afternoon they qualified to the gold medal match for the second consecutive year. In 2015 Gjorgiev and his team lost to Slovenia, finishing with a silver medal at the Final Four held in Walbrzych, Poland. This year the team came out undefeated from Pool A and entered the Final Four in Varna as the heavy favourites to claim the much coveted gold medals.
Gjorgiev led the team to six consecutive victories in the League Round scoring 178 points, 52 more than the second best scorer in the competition, Austrian Thomas Zass, who recorded 126 points. The Macedonian player didn’t slow down in the semi-final with Austria, scoring 29 markers (27 attacks, one block and one ace) in a thrilling tie breaker that took his team to the gold medal match. But the player wouldn’t be too impressed with his scoring abilities if the team lost the match to Austria. “The League Round is one thing, but the Final Four is a different page in the book. If you lose here, you are out and your six previous wins won’t mean anything”, he said after the match, stressing that you are only as good as your last performance.
After a great opening of the match, the Former Y.R. of Macedonia lost the second and third sets, putting in doubt their chances to play for title on Saturday. That was the moment, when Gjorgiev stepped in to lead his team to the tie-break and overall victory.
“The semi-final was difficult, we had a lot of stressful situations, but then the fourth set came and I knew I had to come forward to make it to the gold medal match,” he explained. He is not only the ‘scoring machine’, not only the captain, but the real leader of the team and he is very confident about it. Confident and yet not arrogant.
The player understands and fully accepts his extensive role in the team. “I know I’m not only the captain, but the leader of this team. My teammates expect a lot from me, so I take responsibility when it is necessary.”
If the Volleyball court was a battlefield, you would see Gjorgiev at the front line. The captain laughs about it, explaining his readiness to lead in tough moments. “I’m a big player of this team and I always take responsibility when it matters the most. I’m the leader, the captain, the guide of this team, so I know I have to be in the first line at the battlefield.”
The scenario of leading the group is not limited to the national team only as Nikola Gjorgiev does a similar job in the Japanese club Toray Arrows. “Just like here, the setter counts on me and I get a lot of balls to spike,” he says when asked about his experience in the Japanese league. The system of the league, so similar to most of the European markets with two matches a week, allows him to maintain the rhythm all year long. “I know when to push more and when to save energy, so the Japanese league definitely helps me keep the pace high.”
The experience from foreign leagues and tough battles will be beneficial in tomorrow’s final, when the Former Y.R. of Macedonia will be able to show whether they learned from the loss they suffered last year to Slovenia. Gjorgiev won’t stop his run in the last match of the European League. Will his scoring and leadership skills be enough this time to claim the title? We’ll find out on Saturday!