Bulgaria continue winning streak against Argentina
Argentina, ranked No. 9 in the world, won this match in 2011 3-0 before going on to finish fourth however Bulgaria have won seven matches since, including at the 2012 Olympics.
On this occasion, Bulgaria lived up to their pre-match favouritism by proving too powerful in all facets. The World League’s second best scorer in the Intercontinental Round with 209 points Tsvetan Sokolov was again Bulgaria’s impressive scoring weapon with a day-high 29 points.
But Bulgaria didn’t have it all their own way. The home side, buoyed on by the passionate home fans opened a 18-13 lead in the first set however Argentina seemed to stall under the expectation as some great cross court attacks from Todor Skrimov and captain Aleksiev Todor slowly ate into the Argentina lead. Former skipper Rodrigo Quiroga impressed with his attacking forays but it wasn’t enough for the hosts to hold on as Bulgaria clinched the first set 28-26.
The second set was a lot tighter but continued the trend of the lead swapping hands many times. Sokolov was the catalyst behind Bulgaria staying in the set while the Conte-less Argentineans relied on Quiroga with supporting roles from Sebastien Sole and Pablo Crer. With both teams jostling for position Bulgaria put their noses in front at the finishing post and claimed the second set 25-23 and go 2-0 up overall.
By this stage it looked like Bulgaria, with Georgi Bratoev pulling the strings superbly, were going to run away with a straight sets victory however Quiroga and company had different ideas. They steamed to a 25-20 third set win to reduce the match deficit to 2-1 giving the 5,000 fans plenty more to sing about.
This seemed to spark Bulgaria back into life. Sokolov was unstoppable as last year’s World League and Olympic fourth-placed team did enough to get home 25-23 consigning Argentina to their 10th consecutive defeat and improving Bulgaria’s record against Argentina to five straight wins in the World League including three straight this year.