MU 21 BRN vs POL33

Bulgaria and Poland claimed their second wins in Pool B of the FIVB Volleyball U21 Men’s World Championship and reserved the top two positions in the pool standings, hence spots among the top eight teams of the tournament. Before their duel against each other for the first place in the pool on Saturday, they shut out Cuba and Bahrain, respectively, on Friday, at the Levski Sofia volleyball hall in the Bulgarian capital, sending their opponents to the battles for the places in the lower half of the final ranking.

Bahrain repeated their good performance from their first match against Bulgaria and gave Poland some hard time on the second competition day in Pool B, but once again failed to win a set. The European side managed a 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-21) victory and upped their win-loss record to 2-0 with six points.

In the course of the match, coach Daniel Plinski made a number of substitutions giving all his players the opportunity to contribute. Poland’s spiking made the big difference in the game as it produced 44 points at a 59% success rate, against only 30 for the Bahraini team. Bahrain’s Sayed Amin Ebrahim was the best scorer of the match on 14 points. Poland’s sub-in Bartosz Gomulka put away the winner in offence and tallied a total of 12 points to emerge as his team’s leading scorer.

“It was tough game, but it was a match that we should win. We did it and I am happy,” Poland’s middle blocker Karol Urbanowicz told Volleyball World. “Tomorrow we are playing against Bulgaria and it won’t be an easy game.”

As Bulgaria followed suit and hammered out a 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-21) win over Cuba, both the hosts and Poland were sure to progress. In the first two sets, the Cubans fought hard, but made more mistakes, barring them from winning. Throughout the match, the Bulgarians relied steadily on the attacks of opposite Dennis Karyagin, who added an ace and a kill block to his 15 successful spikes to top the charts with 17 points.

Bulgarian outside Aleksandar Nikolov added another 13 points, including the one that closed the victory at the end of the third set. Cuba’s Marlon Yant also finished with 13 points. The only element, in which the Caribbeans outplayed the Europeans was the blocking. Six different Cubans delivered a total of eight stuffs.

“We knew that Cuba served strong and were a physically strong team. The instructions were to play smart, to volley free balls in difficult situations and to receive well. Thanks to our good serving and the weak reception of the Cubans, our blocking was strong. Tomorrow we go out to win against Poland. The match is irrelevant for advancing, but it is always good to win,” Aleksandar Nikolov, outside hitter of Bulgaria, commented.