Bulgaria Cruises into European Volleyball Semifinals
Bulgaria's national volleyball team qualified for the semifinals of the 2013 European Championship after a 3:1 victory over Germany.
The Bulgarians had the tough task to recover physically and mentally from Tuesday night's thriller against Poland. After squandering a 5-point lead to lose the first set 28:30, it seemed as though they would not be up to the challenge.
Camillo Placi's men recovered during the second set, which was again extremely tight towards the end. This time, luck was on Bulgaria's side, as a couple of close referee decisions went their way. In the crucial moments, when Germany had a set point, the Bulgarian defense was solid. The last thing Bulgaria could afford was to go down two sets for a second straight night. The battle of nerves went their way and they closed the set at 27:25.
Germany took a comfortable lead in the initial stages of the third set, but once again Tsvetan Sokolov (29 points) proved his world class. At the end, the set finished 25:22 for Bulgaria.
After holding on point for point in the first half of the fourth set, the Germans seemingly lost their focus and went into a series of errors. The Bulgarian block was like a wall at times. Viktor Yosifov and Nikolai Nikolov took charge as some of the more tired players began to fade, but once Sokolov remained on the court until the end to earn Bulgaria a 25:20 final set.
After two consecutive turnaround victories, Bulgaria will finally have a few days to rest before they travel to Copenhagen for Saturday's semifinal clash with Italy.
In the other semifinal, Russia will meet Serbia.