Bulgaria, Spain and Turkey were all in position to book a ticket for the semi-finals in Poland, so one team had to be the joker and not make it. In the first match of the day Pool leaders Spain faced Bulgaria that was ranked second with one round still to go. Spain cemented their first place in the group by downing Bulgaria in straight sets (25-16, 25-23, and 25-20) to qualify for the semis as the first-ranked team of Pool II.
In the first set Spain took the lead 8:5 at the first technical time-out and 16:10 by the second. After four exhausting days with top level Volleyball the tension in Skyline Arena was not as high as in yesterday’s matches. Both teams seemed a bit tired and if Spain yesterday had an easy 3-0 win against Denmark, Bulgaria on the other hand was coming off a tough tie-breaker against Turkey. This was reflected in the first set that Spain more or less controlled from the start up to the end (25-16).
Two of the best opposite players in this tournament, Spain’s Andres J. Villena and Bulgaria’s Ivan Ivanov, again proved their qualities in this match making respectively 23 and 11 points. The pace of the match rose in the second set, where the Bulgarian team led 8:7 by the first technical time-out. A great serving series by Spain’s wing-spiker Gerard Osorio gave the Spanish team the lead 11:8. Bulgaria fought back and took the lead by one point (16:15) at the second technical time-out. After this Spain sharpened their game and won the second set 25-23.
Yesterday Bulgaria was down 0-2 in sets against Turkey, fought back and won the match 3-2. Could they do the same against Spain today? Not really as Bulgaria was down 7:8 by the first technical timeout and 13:16 by the second. Spain was too tough an opponent and deservedly won the set 25-20 and the match 3-0.
With the result Bulgaria is still in second place in the table and ready for the semi-finals, but Turkey can steal this position if they win against Greece later today.
Spain’s head coach Ricardo Maldonado: “We played very well today. We played relaxed. We made it difficult for Bulgaria with strong serves and good blocks. I had expected it to be a more difficult match today with more fight from the Bulgarian team. I am glad we have qualified to the next phase in Poland. Now we have to wait for the results in the other pool and then we see what happens. When we play well, we are a strong team to play against”.
Opposite Andres J. Villena: “We were very calm and quiet today because we were already qualified for the semi-finals. The performance today was some of the best Volleyball we have played this far in the tournament,” added opposite Andres J. Villena.