Bulgaria shocks thousands of Polish fans to play Germany in quarterfinals
2013 CEV VELUX Volleyball European Championship - Men
Gdansk, Poland, September 24, 2013. Bulgaria upset more than 6,000 fans at ERGO Arena in Gdansk as the fourth-ranked side from last year’s Olympics and the 2013 FIVB World League beat hosts Poland in the Playoff round of the 2013 CEV VELUX EuroVolley. Bulgaria stormed back from two sets down to win at the tie-break (22-25, 22-25, 25-21, 26-24, and 18-16) and play Germany in the 1/4 finals in a remake of their clash from this past Saturday in Gdynia. The only 22-year old Grzegorz Bociek, the rising star of Polish Volleyball, ended up scoring 26 points but that was not enough for the local heroes to make it to the next round.
Poland started out quite strong with setter Lukasz Zygadlo searching for Bociek and Michal Winiarski who regularly killed their respective spikes. However, Bulgaria was able to keep the score tight and Poland mentor Andrea Anastasi asked for a time-out as the lead was downed to only one point. Bulgaria drew level at 16 all and once more at 19 and 21; two Bulgarian mistakes helped Poland move up 23:21 and it was Winiarski who finished it off at 25-22. The score was very tight in the early phases of the second set with Bulgaria then going up by two points at the second technical time-out. Bulgaria head coach Camillo Placi asked for a break as Poland leveled the score at 19 and after another break asked by the time Bulgaria was trailing 21:23, Bartosz Kurek cashed the final 25-22 and provisional 2:0 lead in sets.
After such good and promising start, Poland surprisingly lost their rhythm in the third set where Bulgaria rapidly moved to the front (8:4); Poland opted for a double substitution with Fabian Drzyzga and Michal Kubiak replacing Zygadlo and Winiarski. However, Bulgaria had already widened the gap and comfortably cruised to the final 25-21. Bulgaria showed great momentum also in the fourth set with their leader Tsvetan Sokolov on fire; Poland looked just helpless but finally was able to reduce the gap a bit (13:15). The final rush was really nervous and in the end Bulgaria went for the 26-24 that called for the tie-break.
Bulgaria caught a flying start there (3:0) but Kurek and Winiarski responded well as Bulgaria was struggling in defense. Still the guests could fire back and level at 9 before they cruised to the front cashing the next rally and forcing Anastasi into a time-out. Bulgaria’s block worked just fine and by stopping Piotr Nowakowski they made it 13:11. Still with the crowd standing on their feet, the score was evened once more at 13 all and again at 14 and 15. Michal Kubiak served into the net but Bulgaria did not cash their third match ball before a fault by Bartosz Kurek sealed the final 18-16 for the “Lions”.
“As we had expected this was a great match where both teams performed really good and fought until the end” said Poland team captain Marcin Mozdzonek. “One or two balls were crucial tonight. I would like to thank the fans and the organizers for what they all have done for us here in Gdansk. Though we are eliminated from the tournament, I can promise that this is not our last word and more is to come in the future”.
“I have to congratulate Bulgaria for they always fight in every match they play. It was a very tough game, packed with emotions. I am of course disappointed with the final result but my players did their best to win tonight” added Andrea Anastasi. “I think that Tsvetan Sokolov did make the difference for Bulgaria and right now he is one of the best players in the world”.
“I would like to thank the local fans for the unique atmosphere we got to feel in this game” said Bulgaria captain Todor Aleksiev. “It was a pleasure for all of us to be a part of this great show. We have to prepare for the next game and I expect another tough match tomorrow as we play Germany”.
“It was a great game for all of us and played at a very high level” said Camillo Placi. “If you look at the score, you see that the difference was really small but on the other hand it makes a huge difference if you are the winner or the loser in the end. I have to congratulate Poland on their excellent performance and to thank the fans. Starting from tonight our minds are set on the next clash with Germany”.
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