Bulgaria defeat Czech Republic in five sets in Pool M
Bulgaria improved to 6-2, while the Czechs fell to 2-6.
The Bulgarians were led by Dobriana Rabadzhieva and Elitsa Vasileva, who both scored 18 points, while the top Czech scorer was Aneta Havlickova with 22 points.
The Czechs earned 15 blocking points to the Bulgarians’ 11, while Bulgaria had the advantage in serving 9-4. The Czechs made 28 errors to Bulgaria’s 19.
The Czechs got off to a solid start with Andrea Kossanyiova and Havlickova attacking from the sides, while Strashimira Filipova got in a few good hits for the Bulgarians. The Czechs took an early lead and held on to it. They were two points ahead at the first technical timeout and six in front at the second, but Bulgaria were still dangerous enough to merit two Czech timeouts – the first when Bulgaria scored three straight points to close to 15-19 and the second when the Czech allowed two straight serves from Mariya Karakasheva to go through them. But decent hits by Kossanyiova and Havlickova brought up setpoint, and a service ace by Ivana Pichotova put the Czechs 1-0 up.
Bulgaria looked sharper at the start of the second set and got a couple of good blocks from Hristina Ruseva as they moved 9-6 ahead. The Czechs replied with good blocks by Ivana Pichotova and Pavla Vincourova and moved to within a point after a good service point by Krist. After Bulgaria coach Marcello Abbondanza called a timeout, Bulgaria stretched their lead to six points after successive kills by Filipova, Vasileva and Ruseva. Vasileva brought up setpoint at 24-18 and a wide effort by Havlickova evened the set score at 1-1.
The Czechs took the first two points of the third set but then had a minor meltdown. Havlickova netted shot, Bulgaria was gifted a point after a receiving error and Havlickova then sent a shot long, which she disputed to the extent that she earned a yellow card. The upshot was that Bulgaria moved into a six-point lead at 10-4 before the Czechs found some momentum of their own and Bulgaria coach Abbondanza called a timeout at 11-8. But the Czechs were blowing hot and cold and found themselves six points behind at the second technical timeout before rallying to within a point at 17-16. Inevitably, another cold spell followed and the Czechs could only manage one more point in the set. A thumping drive from Vasileva brought setpoint and a setting error handed the put Bulgaria 2-1 up.
The Czechs came good again at the start of the fourth set and were four points up at the first TTO. Abbondanza called a timeout soon after when his team was six points back and starting to look ragged, but the Czechs held a five-point lead at the second TTO despite some good shots by Bulgaria’s Rabadzhieva. Havlickova kept the pressure on the Bulgarians – who closed to within two on three occasions – and brought up setpoint at 24-21 with a good line drive. Bulgaria pulled a point back before Emiliya Nikolova planted a serve in the net and sent the match to a tiebreaker.
The Czechs called a timeout after dropping the first three points of the fifth set and were soon four points behind. Two big hits by Filipova and a netted serve by Havlickova saw Bulgaria five points in front at the turnaround, and that proved too big a mountain to climb for the Czechs. They closed to within two at 10-8 but fell apart at the end. Havlickova hit a shot wide to give Bulgaria matchpoint and a block by Filipova on Kristyna Pastulova ended the match.
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