Poland kick off the World League with a victory over Bulgaria
Kaliningrad, Russia, June 17, 2016 – Poland earned their first victory of the 2016 FIVB World League with a thrilling 3-1 (19-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-20) win over Bulgaria in Pool C1 on Friday.
In their 13th meeting in the World League Poland, led by young and new names in the roster, defeated Bulgaria for the eighth time in competition's history. The victory comes four years after the last one - semifinal of the Final Six in Sofia in 2012, when Poland claimed its first world League gold. Bartosz Bednorz fired 15 points to lead Poland, as well as 15 points from Tsvetan Sokolov for Bulgaria.
The first set started with both teams scoring point by point. Bulgaria did their best to stretch away and they were two points ahead by the first technical time-out 6-8. Poland lost a few points serving into the net, while Bulgaria jumped ahead owing to the powerful aces 12-16. Bulgaria kept the lead forcing Stephane Antiga call his team for a break at 15-21. They struck back two points after reaching the set point, but had to yield it 19-25.
Poland started furiously in the second set to get a tiny advantage 8-7. Mateusz Bieniek sparked his team with quick attacks prompting the Polish to push further 15-12. Bulgaria asked for a time-out at 19-14 to rediscover their form and reduce the gap to 19-16, but Poland were stronger with effective blocks and spikes to seal the set 25-19.
The score kept tight in set 3 as both teams played well. Artur Szalpuk served a few uncomfortable balls for Bulgaria asserting a full control 15-10. The teams exchanged serve errors reaching 20-16 before Poland earned more points with brilliant blocks to get to 25-17.
The teams exchanged several serve errors in the beginning of the 4 set and none of them dominated. A great spiking became Poland’s weapon and they rushed ahead to 11-8. Bulgaria made a couple of substitutions to find the rhythm, but it wasn’t helpful as Poland were stronger with commanding offense 25-20.