Madrid, Spain, July 8, 2003 - Brazil overcame a shaky first set to crush
Bulgaria on Tuesday in the second match of the $15 million World League Finals here
at the Palacio Vistalegre after Bulgaria unleashed a first set attack that
left the World Champions humbled and chastened and trailing an embarrassing
six points at the close of the set.
It was then clear that the nervous Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende had to deploy
all his tactics to allow the more slightly-built, but masterly Brazilians back
into the game.
"We made a lot of early mistakes," said Rezende, adding that they did not
respect the tactical plan that they had made before the match. "When they
(Bulgaria) serve well their block is good," Resende said - and it certainly
was in the opener.
But while Bulgaria, including towering 210cm Evgeni Ivanov with his immense
wingspan, captured Brazil's spikes with ease at the net, Brazil began to gain
ground and show the crowd the finesse that has made them one of the world's
great teams. They secured the second set 25-21 then took the third by seven
points to have the huge Bulgarian lineup finally on the run.
By then, Brazil, led by their glittering stars like Gilberto Godoy Fihlo
(Giba), had found their wings and well orchestrated from the sidelines by
Rezende, went on to humble the immensely powerful Bulgarian side to take the
last set 25-11 to boost their confidence ahead of Wednesday's match against
Giba nailed 19 points to be the match's best scorer, well supported by his teammates
in what was, at least from the second set on, copybook Brazilian volleyball.
"We made a lot of mistakes in our reception and in serving," said Bulgaria's
captain Nikolay Ivanov.
"I thought we could play well and surprise them and we managed to do this in
the first set," said coach Milorad Kijac. "We hope that this match will be the
hardest in the group." Bulgaria still faces Italy and Russia in what will be a
hard road to the semifinals for this Balkan team.
Earlier, a sleepy Serbia and Montenegro aroused themselves from early set
slumbers to deliver the points when it most counted to take a 3-0 (25-23, 25-
22. 26-24) first round victory against a very strong Czech side making their
debut in the World League. Captain Nikola Grbic said the European and Olympic
champions had sensed the insecurity of the Czech side and had delivered the points when it was most needed.
Later on Tuesday Russia plays Italy and Spain faces Greece to complete matches on the opening day.