MU 21 POL vs BUL17

Poland defeated hosts Bulgaria at Levski Sofia volleyball hall on Saturday to finish Pool B unbeaten on top of the standings. The two teams are set for another encounter in Pool F of the FIVB Volleyball U21 Men’s World Championship second stage next week, where they will be joined by Russia and Brazil. Also on Saturday, Cuba snatched their first win of the tournament to finish third in the pool.

Bahrain took advantage of the many Cuban errors to win their first set of the tournament. Cuba, however, claimed the next three to claim their first victory at the event and finish third in the pool standings. The Asian side blocked better and served better than the opponents in the first set before middle Hasan Alaiwi beautifully hammered the overpass for the set winner.

The Cubans continued to make more unforced mistakes than the opponents, but at the same time they stepped up their serving and blocking efforts to win the next three sets and celebrate a 3-1 (19-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-21) victory. Their opposite Alexei Ramirez closed both the second set and the match with powerful cross-court kills to tally a total of 16 points and share the top scorer honours with teammate Jose Suarez (four aces) and Bahrain’s Sayed Amin Ebrahim.

“We played so well in the first set today, but after that we made some mistakes. In the end, the small details made the difference,” Bahrain’s libero Bader Husain told Volleyball World.

In the direct duel for the first place in the pool, Poland outpaced Bulgaria to register a 3-1 (29-27, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19) victory and finish the round undefeated. The home team managed to recover from a huge deficit in each of the first three sets. They were able to push the first set into overtime before losing it to a spike by Karol Urbanowicz. In the second, they fell back again to lose by a solid margin, with Polish captain Michal Gierzot finishing it off with a kill. They won the third with Gierzot’s spike going long at set point. The hard-fought battle continued in the fourth set, but this time Poland stayed in control, with Dawid Dulski spearheading the offence and delivering the match winner with a powerful off-the-block spike.

The biggest difference between the two teams came from the attackers. Poland scored 61 spiking points, against only 46 for Bulgaria. Michal Gierzot contributed 22 points to the win, followed by Jakub Czerwinski with 18. Bulgaria’s Samuil Valchinov impressed with five kill blocks towards a tally of 14 point, which put him on top of the team’s scorers chart, together with fellow outside Aleksandar Nikolov.

“It was a game with a lot of emotions. Good emotions! We wanted to fight, we wanted to win and now we are in the first place of the pool and we are very happy. We knew that we are in the next stage, but we wanted to win. It will be difficult in the next stage, like every match, but we are thinking about the next game and we are ready to fight,” said Poland’s middle Karol Urbanowicz.