Bulgaria maintains impeccable record after tough battle with France
2012 CEV Volleyball European League - Women
Fribourg, Switzerland, June 23, 2012. Bulgaria, the undisputed leader of Pool B, scored its eighth consecutive win in the preliminaries of the 2012 CEV Volleyball European League – Women but this time needed to go through a real battle before edging France 3:2 (26-24, 22-25, 25-23, 23-25, and 16-14).
The players around Italian-born head coach Marcello Abbondanza had problems in finding their rhythm and did so only by the time the score stood at 10 all in the opening set. Afterwards, they gradually opened the gap to three points before France stormed back to level at 21 and 24. It was Emiliya Nikolova who contributed the provisional 1:0 for Bulgaria cashing a set ball for the 26-24.
The match remained a neck-to-neck race also in the second set up to 13 all, before France moved up 18:14; Bulgaria fought back but a fault – as the Bulgarian spiker touched the antenna – closed that section of the game in favor of France.
After losing outside hitter Dobriana Rabadzhieva in the second set for an injury, Bulgaria made some mistakes in set 3 thereby trailing 8:15; however, the “Lionesses” clawed back furiously going to the front at 21:19 and after another deuce at 23, two powerful attacks closed the set in favor of the Pool leaders (25-23).
Another close affair unfolded in set 4 where France opened the gap with the help of Leyla Tuifua; Bulgaria attempted a comeback but this time it was France that had the upper hand at 25-23.
France was missing libero Alexandra Rochelle and middle blocker Maeva Orle in the tie-break as they both had got injured in the fourth set, so Bulgaria got the way paved with gold going up 12:8 and claiming three match balls at 14:11. However, France stormed back to 14 all with some great attacks before Bulgaria could finish it at 16-14 to keep its immaculate record in this edition of the European League. Elitsa Vasileva top scored for Bulgaria with 22 points while Christina Bauer and Hélène Schleck clipped 21 apiece for France.
“We had to change our line-up and tactics because of the injuries of Rabadzhieva and Desislava Nikolova, but I am proud that we could score another win, this is important as we are trying to build up the right confidence for the final four” said Bulgaria’s head coach Marcello Abbondanza.
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