Boys' U19 World Championship 2023 - News.

Bulgaria (BUL) vs. Slovenia (SLO) - Pool B #6208731

Bulgarian setter Simeon Nikolov, son of former icon player Vladimir and brother of Aleksandar.

Born into a volleyball-breathing family, Simeon Nikolov came to this U19 World Championship with the desire to lead his team to the podium. A promising victory against Slovenia in the opening match set the stage for Bulgaria, that will seek to overcome a highly demanding group stage in order to repeat a medal after winning silver in the 2021 edition.

"I think we have the toughest group in the World Championship, so I believe we need to be concentrated throughout every single game. We have a very important match now against Japan which, if we manage to win, will put us closer to finish second in the group. From there we can begin to think about the quarterfinals, but for now, we need to focus on the next game."

Bulgaria (BUL) vs. France (FRA) - Pool B #6230962

The setter is the son of the legendary Vladimir Nikolov, captain and icon of the Bulgarian National Team that earned bronze medals in the 2006 World Championship, the 2007 World Cup and the 2009 European Championship. But the legacy also continues with his older brother Aleksandar, one of the most promising players in the world at just 20 years old.

"I’m very blessed that my father and my brother are two volleyball legends. Maybe not yet my brother, but he’s definitely on the right path. I’m very happy to have people that can help me whenever I need them. The advice I remember the most from them is to give my all on the court so that when the game is finished, I don’t have any regrets", he said about this solid family heritage.

Bulgaria's first step in the World Championship came after an impeccable performance by Simeon, leading them to the victory in a tie-breaker with 16 points -5 aces, 4 blocks, and 7 attacks-. However, the team's second presentation ended with a defeat against France, the European runner-up. This did not discourage the young Nikolov, who trusts in his team's abilities to bounce back in the upcoming matches: "We just need to clear some difficulties. We’re making a lot of mistakes, but apart from that, we’re playing well. Mentally, we are kind of stuck in a spot and we need to start evolving, but I’m sure we’re gonna break it out with the team."

Bulgaria (BUL) vs. Slovenia (SLO) - Pool B #6208743

Nikolov in action during his first game.

For the setter, it's his first World Championship, and he expressed his joy at living this moment:

"I’m feeling very happy to be here. I had an injury a couple of weeks ago, so I’m very blessed to be here."

Moreover, the experience holds a special significance for him, as he was chosen as the team captain:

"I feel very proud. For many, this might not seem like a big deal, but for me, I see it like I’m leading the team and helping them when they need it. I’m very happy for the coach’s decision and I’ll try my best every day to prove that I deserve to be the captain of this team."

Bulgaria (BUL) vs. Slovenia (SLO) - Pool B #6208746

Bulgaria celebrating first victory

Regarding his ultimate desire for this tournament in San Juan, Simeon expressed: "Definitely my goal here is to get a medal. I think that we have what it takes to get on the podium, so we just need to work very hard, be concentrated and prove it to the others."

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