Around 11,000 fans in Sofia tried to will Bulgaria
into the final, but Poland put on a ruthless display
to deny them. Bulgaria were always playing
catch-up and with the Poles blocking well, it
was always going to be an uphill struggle. The
Poles spiked superbly and were just too good for
the Bulgarians. “It is a historic moment for all of
us,” Polish captain Marcin Mozdzonek stated.
The all-NORCECA semifinal between USA and
Cuba was expected to be close and so it proved.
It was the youth of Cuba against the experience
of the Americans. Experience triumphed. But
the Cubans, led by 18-year-old captain Wilfredo
León, put up a fight in the 87-minute match.
Both teams put on excellent defensive displays
but the Cubans were the ones making errors at
critical moments. Clayton Stanley led USA with
17
points. “In the end the fact that our team
consists mostly of young players played its role,”
said Cuba coach Orlando Samuels. “We made a
lot of unforced errors.”
The Finals’ best libero, Poland’s Krzysztof
Ignaczak, had seven digs and 14 receptions
in the semifinal against Bulgaria
Georgi Bratoev of Bulgaria averaged 4.00
sets in the semifinal – low by his standards
Piotr Nowakowski was Poland’s second-best
blocker of the Finals and their second-best blocker
against Bulgaria behind Marcin Mozdzonek
66
FINALS HIGHLIGHTS
SEMIFINALS
Poland and USA sweep into final
July 7
POL
BUL
3
0
25-23 25-20 25-18
July 7
USA
CUB
3
0
25-23 25-22 25-23
SEMIFINALS