Sokolov paves the way for Bulgaria's victory over Russia


Team Bulgaria celebrates the victory over Russia

Kazan, Russia, June 3, 2017 – Bulgaria won a five-set thriller over young Russian team (25-21, 25-15, 22-25, 25-27,13-15) in front of the 4100 fans in Kazan with Tsvetan Sokolov scoring match high 21 points.

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Russian team claimed an early lead 8-2 due to kill blocks from Maxim Zhigalov and Denis Biriukov who stopped Tsvetan Sokolov to the first technical timeout. Denis Buriukov with the cross-court spike grabbed the lead 11-4 and forced Plamen Konstantinov to ask for a timeout. After the timeout the situation did not improve much for Bulgaria 14-8, practically all Bulgarian spikes faced Russia's block. After the second technical timeout Todor Skrimov served an outstanding ace and narrowed the gap to 16-14. Sergey Shliapnikov asked for a timeout to calm down the team. Till the end of the set Russia kept the 4-point gap to close it put 25-21.

Bulgaria regrouped in the beginning of the second set 9-7, Todor Skrimov attacked effectively but Russian block from Egor Kliuka and Ilia Vlasov together with devastating spikes from Maxin Zhigalov wiped out all attempts of Bulgaria to reduce the 16-10 gap. Bulgaria could not do much to change the course of the match despite of all team's effort 22-14 for Russia. Pavel Pankov, who appeared on the court helped Russia to win with the commanding score 25-15.

Bulgarian team stayed alive in the match and bothered Russian defense again due to spikes from Nikolay Nikolov from the middle and blocking ways for Russian opposite 9-9. Bulgarians mistakes especially in service prevented their wish to lead the score. Egor Kliuka playing over the Bulgaria's block established the lead 20-18, but Bulgaria unexpectedly found some fresh air and went ahead 24-21. Tsvetan Sokolov scored the last point for 25-21.

Bulgarian team set the tempo of the game 8-5, Tsvetan Sokolov and Nikolay Nikolov overplayed Russian block for 10-6 and later extended the gap to 18-12 due to reception problems on the Russia's side. Then Russian team showed the elements of improvement in blocking and scoring prowess1 8-20. Dmitry Volkov who appeared on the court only in fourth set performed 2 aces in a row 21-21. The teams exchanged the lead but it was Todor who sent the game into tie-break with 27-25 in set four.

The game of nerves started in the fifth set with neither team gaining the advantage. Dmitry Volkov's powerful block-out spikes put Russia 6-5 in front. Plamen Konstantinov asked for a timeout and teams tightened the game to 11-11. Rosalin Penchev splited Russian block for 14-13 to Bulgaria and Tsvetan Sokolov ended the match with 15-13.


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