In the second match of the day, Finland overpowered Bulgaria in straight sets 3:0 (25-17, 25-22, 27-25) and qualified to the semi finals, which is by far their best result at the CEV Youth Volleyball European Championships – Boys, as on the previous two occasions they finished eighth (1997) and twelfth (2011). Finland’s Sakari Mäkinen topped the scorers’ chart with 19 points, while Yani Georgiev was the best scorer in the losing team with 14.
Finland started the match knowing that they have a historic opportunity to qualify to the semi finals with the victory against Bulgaria. The Finns were very vigilant through the first stage of the initial set. They were slightly ahead, but Bulgaria kept the close distance. At the second technical time-out it was just a two-point lead for the Finnish team (16-14). However, after the break Finland used a couple of mistakes made by the Bulgarian players to seize control of the match and storm to a 25-17.
In the second set, Bulgaria put pressure on a stage-frightened Finns and got off to a 16-12 by the second technical break. However, after the pause, Finland started to play much better and Bulgaria could not respond to such a sudden change of pace by the Finnish side. Quickly, the Finns tied the score at 16-16, then turned it in their favor and never looked back. In the end, they wrapped it up at 25-22 for 2:0 in sets.
The biggest drama in the match was seen in the third set. Once again, Bulgaria took control over the scoreboard from the very beginning, but as the closing stage was approaching they were losing their focus, and the Finns reached the tie. The teams entered an exciting finish, and Finland was a little bit on the lucky side to score a precious victory at 27-25.
Pertti Honkanen, head coach of Finland: “We were working very hard back in Finland. It paid off perfectly! We sacrificed a lot to be here, but it was worth it. I am thrilled!”
Ivan Halachev, head coach of Bulgaria: ”I think this is our reality at the moment. We played as much as we could against some very strong teams. We participated at the European Championship and I am satisfied with this.“
Sakari Mäkinen, captain of Finland: “We played very good this whole tournament. We were steady, we played our game and I think we can compete with the best teams in the semi finals.”
Mihail Tsvetanov, captain of Bulgaria: “We could have played better, but in the end we are happy to have been here. We learned a lot from this experience.”
To read more news from this competition click on Youth European Championship 2013 M.