Varna, Bulgaria, June 11, 2017 – Bulgaria
put an end to Olympic champions Brazil
four-game winning streak as Tsvetan Sokolov
claimed 17 points in the home side 3-1 win (25-22, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19) in Sunday's action at the 2017 World League.
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Tsvetan Sokolov scored a team-high as Bulgaria made the best of its opponent 39 direct errors as well as a strong team performance in the block as Plamen Konstantinov's men managed eleven, including five for Nikolay Nikolov alone.
Renan Buiatti was once again the standout for Brazil but the Juiz de Fora opposite's 12 points were not enough to compensate for the Auriverde's poor performance in the block (6) and serve (4 aces).
Brazil jumped to an early lead as Ricardo Lucarelli Souza charged ahead with an ace (6-9). But an ace by Nikolay Sokolov followed by a block send Bulgaria ahead (15-12). The middle blocker added another point with a deft touch and the Europeans cruised to a 25-22 first set win.
It was more of the same in the second set as the Bulgarian raced in front 11-10 to the delight of a partisan crowd. Georgi Bratoev added to their joy with a well timed serve to put the home side well ahead (19-14). An ace by Viktor Yosifov, his second of the set, put an end to the second set (25-19).
Brazil showed great character with a surge in the beginning of the third set that gave them a convincing lead (6-4). But Bulgaria tremendous solidity in defence as they started to snuff out the Brazilians' threats as Nikolay Nikolov tied the set (17-17). After a time out, the South Americans rallied and send out to artillery to claw back to 2-1 (25-23).
Lucarelli put his Brazil on top (6-8) but not for long as Bulgaria turned things around with a Sokolov spike (10-6) as the Europeans scored four unanswered points in a row. Despite dominating the opening of the set, Brazil were on the back foot for the majority of the second as the hosts surged into a three-point lead which they maintained until late in the set (18-15). A Penchev ace took Bulgaria into the business end of the set with a comfortable advantage (22-16) and the Europeans went on to win the match on a Sokolov spike (25-19).