Not in great mood, not in great style, not in great shape
but nevertheless Bulgaria got its World League campaign back on track by
defeating Japan at home 3:1 (26:24, 18:25, 25:21, 25:22).
It was the third match in a row that Bulgaria failed to
play at its typical best, but the home debut of new coach Silvano Prandi in
front of 4,500 fans was still a victorious one.
The Bulgarians were far from smooth at the beginning,
bending under surprisingly fast and accurate Japanese attacks. The hosts lost
several important points and had to push its hardest to win the first set
Luck was on the side of the Asians in the second set.
Tatsuya Ueta's boys showed their best and despite making mistakes, won the
second set 25-18.
That was enough to wake up the sleeping Bulgarian Lions
and the shouting of the 4,500 throats in their favor brought the desired
result. Led by Vlado Nikolov, the hosts gradually came back into the match.
Japan did not give up but in the end it was the experience of the Bulgarians
that gave them the win in the third set, 25-21.
The fourth was much easier for Silvano Prandi to watch,
as his men ran all over the visitors to win the set 25-22. The players handed
their Italian coach the win on his first appearance in front of a local crowd.