Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 10, 2017 – Bulgaria prevailed 4-2 (15-13, 13-15, 11-15, 15-13, 15-12, 15-11) in a thrilling clash versus Japan in Sunday’s last Pool B match at 2017 FIVB Women’s U23 World Championship here in Ljubljana.
Silvana Chausheva (4th best scorer at 2015 FIVB Women’s U23 World Championship) and captain Gergana Dimitrova led the East Europeans with 18 and 17 points respectively while Japan’s captain Misaki Yamauchi contributed 15 kills for her squad.
All matches in Ljubljana are played under a new scoring system currently being tested: a best-of-seven, 15-point set format.
There was not much to separate the two teams in the early stages of the match. Chausheva and Dimitrova led the Bulgarian offense while Japan’s Yamauchi fired widely for the Asian side. At 14-13, Miroslava Paskova made the difference with a blistering winner from the left to put up Bulgaria 1 set to nothing.
It remained a tough battle with both teams emphasizing their strengths. The Asians joined speed and combinations while the European side focused on height and power. The Japanese turned the tables in the second (15-13) and third set (15-11) before Bulgaria fought back bravely in the fourth period (15-13).
It was the turning point in Sunday evening’s roller-coaster match. The young Bulgarians kept the upper hand in the fifth (15-12) and sixth set (15-11), cruising to a hard-earned 4-2 victory.
Bulgaria coach Antonina Zetova: “It was a very tough match because the Bulgarian team rarely plays with the teams from Asia and we suffered very much during the game. Before the game, I was very worried because I know their style. I did not know how my team will react and how will they approach the game. I love my team and I think that we are going to improve our play with more and more matches we play here.”
Bulgaria captain Gergana Dimitrova: “In fact we prepared very well, we saw the Japan matches on video nine times. I think it was a very good match. We have not played before against a team that plays so fast. We fought very hard towards the end of the sets. I have no clue how we managed to have such good serving, attacking and blocking. But, thanks to God we moved through and won at the end.”
Japan coach Kiyoshi Abo: “Congratulations to Bulgaria as they played very well today. We need to improve our game in attack, which was very poor today. We are going to have to train a lot to improve our attacking.”
Japan captain Misaki Yamauchi: “This was a fast match for us and we wanted to win but unfortunately we lost. Bulgaria played very well. We didn’t play very well, especially in attack.”
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