Vladimir Nikolov, Nikolay Nikolov, Todor Aleksiev and the rest of the lions ruined the day for Belgium
Varna, Bulgaria, July 10, 2015 – Bulgaria became the first team to secure a spot in the final match of Group 2 of the FIVB Volleyball World League 2015. In front of a full house of over 5,000 spectators, among which former president of the Republic of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov, the Lions put on a great show to defeat Belgium by 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-20), led by the shining performances of Vladimir Nikolov who top-scored with 22 points and middle blocker Nikolay Nikolov who aced six times and kill-blocked five for a total of 16 points, as many as team mate Todor Aleksiev. Sam Deroo was Belgium’s best scorer with 14 points.
Powerful spikes from both sides of the net raised the adrenaline during the first set, but it was the tremendous efforts of their defence that gave Belgium the edge throughout most of the set. The fans erupted when Todor Aleksiev’s successful attack tied the score at 18-18, but this is as far as the home team could get. Finally, Bulgaria’s serving error on Belgium’s second set point closed the set at 23-25. Three aces in a row by Nikolay Nikolov gave Bulgaria a 3-point lead at the first technical time-out of the second set, which did not put a stop to this incredible run. The Belgians could not completely process his next serve, after which he aced again for 10-5. This proved to be the turning point of the game and a blow Belgium never recovered from. The home side simply widened the gap before captain Vladimir Nikolov hammered the ball onto the floor for 25-14.
Bulgaria’s total domination continued in set 3. It was time for Niki Nikolov to put his other talent on display. His blocks proved impossible for the Belgians to break through, while Vlado Nikolov kept pounding point after point in offence. In the end, the Belgians tried to bring the suspense back and saved a few set points with some great digging, before surrendering at 25-18 Bulgaria’s way. The next set was very competitive through 19-19, after which Bulgaria reached match point with five consecutive points and Viktor Yosifov behind the serving line. A thundering pipe shot by Todor Aleksiev put an end to it all at 25-20 and Bulgaria rejoiced as a finalist.
Before the beginning of the match the Bulgarian Minister of Youth and Sports Krasen Kralev awarded members of the country’s national team that won silver from the first European Games in Baku just a couple of weeks ago.
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