Undefeated Marek claims third Bulgarian title in a row
Sofia, Bulgaria, April 15, 2014 - Marek Union-Ivkoni Dupnitsa became the men’s volleyball champion of Bulgaria for a third consecutive time. This season the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League participant did not lose a single match in Bulgaria’s National Volleyball League and upon winning the title reserved its place in next season’s edition of Europe’s most prestigious club competition. Marek’s 28-game winning streak culminated with Monday’s victory over Levski Ball Sofia, which finalized what was a logical and expected outcome of the season.
Having cruised through the regular season with 22 victories in a row and a total of only six lost sets, Marek won its quarterfinal playoff with two shutouts of Neftohimik 2010 Burgas and repeated this result in the semifinal series against CSKA Sofia.
The 2014 Kupa Bulgariya winner Levski finished the NVL regular season in third place and then managed to overcome rookie Dobrudzha 07 Dobrich with 3:1 and 3:2 victories in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, the Blues from Bulgaria’s capital upset the other 2014 European Cups participant from the Southern European country CVC Gabrovo with a 3:0 away and a 3:2 home victories to emerge as the second finalist.
According to the regulations, the championship series had to be played at the federation’s Hristo Botev volleyball hall in Sofia, so Levski luckily ended up with the home ground advantage in the final. Despite that, Marek defeated their opponents by 3:1 (17-25, 25-21, 25-20, 27-25) with a 28-point contribution from opposite Venelin Kadankov in the first match to take the lead in the series.
Numerous fans of both teams filled the stands at Hristo Botev to create a fantastic atmosphere for the second game on Monday evening. Although coach Nayden Naydenov’s squad was dominating on the court for the most part of the sets, its opponents from Levski managed to find the way to come back and provide for interesting endings. Still the defending champions persevered to win the match by 3:1 (25-23, 24-26, 26-24, 25-21) to finish the season unbeaten and triumphant with the title. Levski’s Simeon Aleksandrov became the top scorer of this match with 23 points.
“We do not have any stars, but we have a team,” an emotional coach Naydenov said after the match. “And we played as a team! Our success is the result of a goal-oriented and well-planned preparation, good tactics and a lot of hard work.” The mentor of the champions, who earlier in the season lost the national cup to Levski, added: “This championship title equals ten cups because this is a season-long tournament in which we played almost thirty games without losing. That is why I am very happy.”
“Winning the cup and playing in the championship final are achievements that no one expected from Levski this season,” Italian coach of the team from Sofia Giuseppe Lorizio stated. “I would like to stay in Bulgaria and continue what we started this season. It would be a pleasure to continue my work in Sofia, so that we could enjoy the results of our efforts.”
Since the Superliga playoffs are only meant to determine the champion, the rest of the teams are ranked according to their placement from the regular season. So CVC Gabrovo ended up with the silver medals while Levski Ball Sofia was left with the bronze.
1. Marek Union-Ivkoni Dupnitsa
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