Gdansk, Poland, July 8, 2011 – Bulgaria clinched a 3-0 victory over Italy (25-22, 25-22 and 25-21) in their final Pool E encounter to give them a great chance of qualifying for the FIVB World League Finals for only the fourth time. Bottom of the group Poland must beat top of the pool Argentina in the late match to pass Bulgaria and advance to the semis.
Bulgaria's Vladimir Nikolov was at his inspirationla best, topping the scoring with 16 points, followed by Italy's Ivan Zaytsev with 15.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World League
Final Round - Poland July 6-10
The first set started better for Bulgaria as they took the lead (8-6 at the first TTO). The fans gathered in the Ergo Arena clearly picked the side as their favorites. Italy refused to lose touch with the Bulgarians and with Ivan Zaytsev's powerful services (including one ace) they gained a three-point-advantage (14-11) and stayed ahead. Bulgaria managed to level the score (18-18), and carried the momentum as they won the set 25-22.
The beginning of set two was again better for the Bulgarians who quickly gained a four-point-advantage (5-1) staying in control over their opponents, playing great in block. Italy got a little closer at 11-9 when the Bulgaria coach Radostin Stoychev called a timeout. After that his team jumped ahead again (16-13 at the second TTO), but then dramatically,with three unanswered points, Italy tied the score. The set ended with Italy's bad service and Bulgaria won 25-22.
The third set was tight from the beginning. The “Azzurri” were now determined to take control of the clash, but the Bulgarians refused to let them. Bulgaria captain Vladimir (Vlado) Nikolov was a hero of this set as he gave his team a three-point-advantage with an ace in the key moment (18-15).The side took the set 25-21 and the match 3-0.