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07/07/2014 18:00
Getting to know: Newcomer of the Year Emiliya Nikolova
2014 European Volleyball Gala

Vienna, Austria, July 7, 2014. Emiliya Nikolova is the youngest among the Volleyball stars that were honoured last June 27 as Vienna, and more specifically the Redoutensaal of the Hofburg Palace, played host to the 2014 edition of the European Volleyball Gala. And since she is still 22, it does not come as a surprise that Nikolova received the award for the Newcomer of the Year after making the Playoffs 12 of the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League in her first season in Europe’s elite club competition. Nikolova was able to achieve this feat with Italy’s Prosecco Doc-Imoco CONEGLIANO, the team she will be playing for also in the 2014/2015 season.

“This award is a terrific honour and definitely one of the greatest accolades in my career,” says the opposite player. “And after this first experience, I do hope that I will have once more the chance of stepping on that stage,” adds Nikolova who – after leaving her home country – has already played in Romania, Turkey, and Italy.

It wasn’t just Nikolova but also her team, Prosecco Doc-Imoco CONEGLIANO, that last season debuted in the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League. “The real plus of this experience is that we all had the opportunity to play world-class teams. It is exactly in such matches where you measure up yourself with the best and you see where you really stand,” Nikolova reckons. “The CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League stands apart from any other Volleyball competition, because you get to play the real Volleyball elite, the strongest and also best prepared among all Volleyball teams.”

Nikolova has already announced that she will be staying in Conegliano for another year: “Yes, I really feel good there; the management of the club is done in a very professional way and everything is organised at the highest level. We also have wonderful fans; the team is being set up in order to vie for the highest goals, so what else could I ask for?”

Unfortunately Nikolova won’t return to the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League this year since CONEGLIANO missed out on one of the two spots at stake to represent Italy in the 2015 edition. However, the season will be busy for the so-called “Panthers” who – next to their duties in the national league and national cup – will participate in the 2015 CEV Volleyball Cup. “We have to play our best in every match. I think that we have a good team and we will be trying to achieve good results both domestically as well as in the European Cups,” Nikolova says.

The 22-year old opposite player is also a key member of Bulgaria’s national team, and was part of the group that won silver and bronze in the 2010 and 2011 editions of the CEV Volleyball European League. In some weeks she will wear again the jersey of the Lionesses representing Bulgaria in the FIVB World Grand Prix and then at the FIVB World Championship in Italy: “We are doing well with the national team and I think that this could be “our” year, even though there are very strong opponents out there.”

After receiving the award for the Newcomer of the Year, questioned by Norisha Campbell if she had any idol that inspires her, Nikolova did not hesitate to mention the name of Turkey’s Volleyball heroine Neslihan Demir who was also in Vienna to receive the prize for the Ultimate Team Leader. “Finally I was able to speak out and to reveal this secret to our Volleyball family,” Nikolova says. “She has been my idol ever since I started playing Volleyball, she plays with her heart and she is an outstanding leader. She keeps the team united as she passes on to everyone her charisma and determination. She is a real star.”

Knowing where her source of inspiration comes from, Nikolova also delivers a message to young girls who may want to follow in her footsteps: “I started playing Volleyball when I was only 9 years old. My mom brought me to the sports hall and since that day I never stopped. Volleyball is a great sport, packed with loads of emotions and beautiful moments, and you can make a lot of good friends. Volleyball is magic, so let it mesmerize you too!”

Click here for a comprehensive gallery of the 2014 European Volleyball Gala

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