Tokyo, Japan, December 2, 2007: Bulgaria booked a place in the 2008 Olympic Games by sweeping Argentina 3-0 in the first match of the day at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon.
The tournament wild cards, ranked seventh in the world, beat the South American vice champions 25-17, 25-22, 25-23 to finish the 12-team round-robin with a 9-2 record -- good enough to secure a podium finish and a place in Beijing.
Argentina, ranked ninth in the world, ended with a losing 5-6 record.
Bulgaria started in business-like mood, leading 8-3 at the first TTO and 16-9 at the second.
More experienced and more motivated due to their respective positions in the standings, Bulgaria quickly settled into a groove on serve, block and attack.
Kaziyski blocked Quiroga, who was replaced by Scholtis at 11-7, and setter Zhekov blocked Chavez, giving the Argentine attack a hard time in the early stages. In contrast, Vladimir Nikolov scored smoothly from right and left, and Kaziyski rocked the Argentine defence with some bullet serves.
Trailing 19-11, Argentine coach Uriarte called his first TO of the match to try and lift his young team, but the Argentines were off again at 21-12 when Konstantinov blocked Chavez.
Garcia, an Argentine stand-out in this tournament, reduced the deficit with some trademark spikes, and Chavez climbed high on the left and spiked crisply to beat the Bulgarian defence. When Kaziyski surprisingly fired wild, the lead was down to seven but Bulgaria still had plenty of points to play with.
Set point came at 24-15 and Kaziyski closed it 25-17.
In the second set, Scholtis sent an ace through the Bulgarian back court and Garcia continued to impress with his spiking on the left. Stepanenko cleaned up at the net and Garcia served a fiery ace for 7-4, giving Bulgaria plenty to think about.
Lifting their game visibly, Scholtis rose on the left and fired Argentina into the first TTO with a three-point lead, 8-5.
The Bulgarians had gone off the boil and quickly needed to re-establish their authority in the second set, or face a struggle they did not need with an Olympic place on the line.
Tsvetanov at the net and Zhekov with a flick into space set about repairing the damage, and when Ivanov blocked Aschemacher down the middle, the Europeans were level 9-9.
Kaziyski showed his class with some fluid spiking but was then furious when a high ball was allowed to drop in the Bulgarian back court, gifting Argentina a point. He took out his frustration at this breakdown in team communication by lashing an unstoppable winner from the back court for 16-14 at the second TTO.
Bulgaria maintained the momentum and forced Argentina into a TO at 20-17, and Ivanov greeted Chavez with a thundering block on the restart. More excellent work from Garcia, including a second fizzing ace, reduced Argentina's deficit to two at 22-20 and forced a Bulgaria TO.
Nikolov brought up set point at 24-21, after an earlier attack in the same rally had been saved brilliantly by De Cecco, and a service fault ended it 25-22.
The highlight of the early stages of the third set was a remarkable piece of soccer skill from Argentine setter Orduna that even Barcelona star Lionel Messi would have been proud of, racing back and keeping the ball alive at full stretch. Bulgaria captain Konstantinov must have been impressed with this spectacular salvage job, but was merciless in ending the rally with a pounding winner.
Trailing 11-8, Argentina called the first TO of the third set. Konstantinov looked to have broken Argentina's resistance with a flurry of fast and accurate jump serves, only for the South Americans to dig deep and close to within a point, 13-12. Now it was Bulgaria who needed a TO.
Leading 16-13 at the second TTO, Bulgaria could not pull away, especially with Garcia in top form and with the ground defence working overtime to dig the Bulgarian attacks.
Attack errors enabled Argentina to draw level 17-17, and another whistling serve from Garcia moved his team in front 19-18. A Scholtis winner on the left had Bulgarian coach Stoev shouting at his team, and Zhekov responded with a timely block on Scholtis for 21-20 and an Argentina TO.
A Kaziyski block brought up two match points at 24-22, and the same player ended it on the right, 25-23.