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Herbots leads as Belgium take advantage in race to stay in VNL

Belgium celebrate their huge win over Bulgaria as the race for the Challenger Teams to remain in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League truly begins.
Ruse, Bulgaria, May 22, 2019 - Belgium completed the first full comeback of the season, Wednesday night in Ruse, rallying from two sets down to beat hosts Bulgaria in five on this opening week of the 2019 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League. But besides the thrills the fluctation of the score provided fans, there's a far more important side to the win.

Belgium, alongside the Dominican Republic, Poland and VNL rookies Bulgaria are the four Challenger Teams in this year's edition. One of the four will be relegated at the end of the season, to be replaced for 2020 by the winner of the FIVB Challenger Cup.

Belgium's win was thus a huge step towards remaining in the VNL for a third year - though the road is still long and the race has just begun. On top of that, outside hitter Britt Herbots believes there's more at stake than remaining in the VNL.

Regardless, Wednesday evening's match in Ruse has its significance. And Belgium's other outside hitter, Celine Van Gestel, looks back to how her side registered a similarly significant win last year to help them stay on for this season's VNL.

The Dominican Republic obviously also enjoy an advantage, after their opening day win over Russia in Brasilia - a feat that will be difficult for the other Challenger Teams to replicate as the 2019 VNL moves forward.

But however things stand after only two days into the competition, one thing is certain: The race is now truly on.

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