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Bulgaria stun Olympic champions Brazil in World Grand Prix


Bulgaria celebrate after defeat Brazil

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, August 10, 2013 – Bulgaria, ranked 43 in the world, stunned Olympic champions Brazil in the FIVB World Grand Prix on Saturday with a 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 25-21) victory in Puerto Rico. Both teams now have 4-1 records.

It was the first time the two teams had met in the World Grand Prix, but history was on the Bulgarians’ side with a 4-3 advantage over the Brazilians in major competitions going into the game although those matches were predominately in the World Championships from 1960 to 1980. The last match between the two countries saw Brazil win in straight sets at the 2002 World Championships, which was Bulgaria's last appearance in an FIVB event not counting qualifying tournaments.

Before Saturday’s loss, world No. 2 Brazil had won 29 straight matches against opponents other than USA. Their last loss in the World Grand Prix to a non-USA team was against Japan in August 2010. 

Fernanda Rodrigues of Brazil was the top scorer in the match with 18 points while Bulgaria were led by Dobriana Rabadzhieva with 16 points. Bulgaria had the advantage in blocking points (14-12) while the Brazilians outserved their opponents 7-4.

Bulgaria started the first set with some defensive issues that allowed Brazil to lead 8-5 at the first technical time out. A block and spike from Bulgarian captain Strashimira Filipova helped tie the scores at 9-9, after which it was a battle for supremacy. The underdogs prevailed when Emiliya Nikolova clinched the set with an amazing block on Sheilla Castro.

The second set continued with intense plays from both teams until a surprise attack from setter Lora Kitipova gave Bulgaria a one-point advantage at the second TTO. A bomb from Rabadzhieva sealed the second set and Bulgaria were 2-0 up.

Brazil turned the tables in the third set after improving their block and spikes and were three points up at the second TTO. Brazil’s Priscila Daroit led the way as Brazil took the set 25-20.

Thaisa Menezes come off the bench for the fourth set as Brazil tried to keep up the momentum of the third set, but Bulgaria controlled their reception well to hold on for a historic victory. 

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