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Although they have lost the element of surprise due to their fantastic fifth place finish in the 2003 World League, Bulgaria will nonetheless be hoping the experience gained from that tournament will help them to go even further in 2004. After a stuttering start to the 2003 competition, Bulgaria went on to claim seven wins from eight matches and just happened to miss out on the semi-finals due to set ratio, however, taking home $938,400 in total prize money will have softened the blow slightly.  This Eastern European team, ranked 15th on the FIVB world rankings, is traditionally strong and on their day can quite easily cause an upset. The 2002 World Championship in Argentina was a perfect illustration of the calibre of this team. On route to a 13th place finish Bulgaria defeated the then World League title holders Russia 3-0 before pushing eventual World Championship bronze medalists France to five sets during pool play.

Unfortunately it was during the second round when Bulgaria went down to Italy, Argentina and Japan to destroy any chance of progressing any further. Previous history in the World League includes a five-year streak from 1994-1998 when their best finish was fourth in 1994. Since then their form has tailed off and yet proved unpredictable. European Championship form has seen the Bulgarians finishing sixth in 2001 and seventh in 1999, however, ending the 2003 tournament second from bottom of their pool was considered a disappointment.

For a team that reached the 1996 Olympics quarterfinals and has won three gold medals, a silver and a bronze at World Championship level, failure to qualify for the Sydney Olympics was a mystery while failure to qualify for Athens was more of a lack of urgency, missing out on the semifinals of the European Continental Olympic qualifying tournament on set ratio.

Despite the recent setbacks, Bulgaria are still considered to be one of the dark horses of world volleyball who their opponents would be wise not to underestimate.
Prize Money
Bulgaria Total Prize money US$
3 372 600

Overall Standings for
World League Played Total Matches played Win Lost % Wins
6 89 52 37 58.4