Bulgaria Overcomes 9-1 Finnish Blocking Edge to Win Opener in Varna

  0 Braden Keith | September 09th, 2018 | European volleyball, International Volleyball, News


  • September 9th-18th, 2018
  • Palace of Culture and Sports, Varna,  Bulgaria
  • Preliminary Pool D

While it wasn’t quite the massive 11,000+ crowd that saw co-hosts Italy kick off the tournament in Rome, injury-rattled Bulgaria kicked off play in Varna with a 3-0 win over Finland in front of 4,850 fans in the country’s third-largest city: Varna.

#14 Bulgaria def. #18 Finland 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-22)

“It was the best possible start,” Bulgarian coach Plamen Konstantinov said after his team’s opening win. While it was a crucial 3-point victory early in the tournament, Konstantinov tempered his enthusiasm by saying his team had areas for improvement. “We got maximum from the match as a result but we could perform better in our next games especially on the net. The team of Finland did not risk a lot. It looked like they prefer a long rallies but we managed to get most of them and to win at the end.”

While neither team made many errors (19 each), Bulgaria’s more-aggressive style led to an 8-3 serve advantage, and they were also able to dig a match-best 21 balls on the relatively-tame Finland offensive game.

30-year old Valentin Bratoev, who wasn’t on last year’s European Championship roster, led all players with 14 points in the match, having 6 in each of the first 2 sets before cooling off in the 3rd. 10 of those points came on kills, while another came from a block (the team had just 2 in the match) and 3 more came on service aces.

Nikolay Uchikov and Todor Skrimov had 12 points each for Bulgaria, a team that is without at least 4 of its regular players due to injury (including starting setter Georgi Bratoev, Valentin’s brother).

Finland, meanwhile, was led by 10 points from Urpo Sivula, with 6 on kills, 2 on blocks, and 2 from the serve. He hit just 6-for-21 in the match (28.5%), indicative of Konstantinov’s comments about a conservative style (though Finland as a team hit a respectable 47%).

Finland played to its strengths in the match, which is blocking – where they had a 9-to-1 advantage. No single player had more than 2, but Sivula, Sauli Sinkkonen, and Tommi Siirila each had that many

Next-up for Finland is a matchup with Cuba, which becomes almost a must-win already if they want to advance to the next round of the competition. Bulgaria will play Iran on Thursday, where another win would all-but-guarantee them a spot in the next round (every team with at least 2 wins in preliminary play in 2014 advanced to the 2nd round, though mathematically it doesn’t have to work out that way).

Pool A Standings After Day 1

Matches Pts Sets Points
Rank Team W L W L Ratio W L Ratio
1  Bulgaria 1 0 3 3 0 MAX 75 62 1.210
2  Finland 0 1 0 0 3 0.000 62 75 0.827
3  Cuba 0 0 0 0 0 MAX 0 0 MAX
3  Iran 0 0 0 0 0 MAX 0 0 MAX
3  Poland 0 0 0 0 0 MAX 0 0 MAX
3  Puerto Rico 0 0 0 0 0 MAX 0 0 MAX

Schedule & Results

Date Time Score Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5 Total Report
9 Sep 20:40 Bulgaria  3–0  Finland 25–21 25–19 25–22 75–62
12 Sep 17:00 Iran   Puerto Rico 0–0
12 Sep 20:30 Cuba   Poland 0–0
13 Sep 17:00 Puerto Rico   Poland 0–0
13 Sep 20:40 Iran   Bulgaria 0–0
14 Sep 17:00 Finland   Cuba 0–0
14 Sep 20:40 Bulgaria   Puerto Rico 0–0
15 Sep 17:00 Cuba   Iran 0–0
15 Sep 20:30 Poland   Finland 0–0
16 Sep 17:00 Puerto Rico   Finland 0–0
16 Sep 20:40 Cuba   Bulgaria 0–0
17 Sep 17:00 Cuba   Puerto Rico 0–0
17 Sep 20:30 Iran   Poland 0–0
18 Sep 17:00 Finland   Iran 0–0
18 Sep 20:40 Bulgaria   Poland 0–0



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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of VolleyMob.com. Braden's first foray into sports journalism came in 2010, when he launched a swimming website called The Swimmers' Circle. Two years later, he joined SwimSwam.com as a co-founder. Long huge fans of volleyball, when Braden and the SwimSwam partners sought an opportunity to …

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