Maritza Plovdiv finish in top spot of Bulgarian Women's League
On the day Europe was celebrating the #OneDayMore4Volleyball campaign, the NVL held the last leg of its home-and-away phase as the reigning champions from Plovdiv claimed their 14th consecutive victory and stayed on top of the standings.
Maritza went through the regular season in remarkable style and domination. The Yellows managed to defeat all but one of their opponents twice each by a 3-0 scoreline. In their 16 matches, they lost a total of only four sets, all of them to their main rival Levski Sofia. They needed the victory against third-placed Kazanlak Volley on Monday night in order to secure first place. They won that one 3-0 (25-11, 25-14, 25-18) in only 61 minutes to please the home crowd at Plovdiv University sports hall as well as those fans watching the game on television.
Maritza topped the table with a 15-1 overall win-loss record and 45 points. Levski also achieved 15 victories, but finished second with 43 points. According to NVL regulations, the playoffs will only determine the national champion, while the rest of the teams will be ranked by the order of their regular-season standings, which means that Maritza and Levski have already secured medals, at least silver and bronze, respectively. In the most likely event that one of these two sides claims the title and the gold medals, then Kazanlak Volley will end up with the bronze.
“What is most important about this first place is that it gives us the necessary self-confidence before the decisive matches,” said club manager Boris Halatchev.
In the best-of-three quarterfinal playoffs, Maritza will face eighth-ranked YEB Shumen 05. The other three match-ups are between Levski and Rakovski Dimitrovgrad, Kazanlak Volley and Burgas 2007 and CSKA Sofia and Slaviya Sofia. The dates are March 9, 12 and, if necessary, 14. The semifinal and final playoffs will take place in April after the end of the qualifiers for the 2016 CEV U19 Volleyball European Championship - Women.
“The first step has been made, but the more difficult ones are ahead of us,” stated Maritza’s head coach Ivan Petkov. “We have to prepare well for them and I hope we will be able to continue our victorious march. Now we have to focus on the national cup matches we have to play this weekend.”
Maritza will be travelling to Sofia for the games in Pool B of the first stage of the Kupa Bulgariya tournament. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Plovdiv team will start its campaign to defend the trophy won in 2015 with matches against Slaviya, CSKA and Rakovski. The first two teams from that pool will qualify for the semifinals in May.