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Bulgaria – first to qualify in the Czech play-off

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The best two teams of Pool B KV and pool D Prague came together in Karlovy Vary. The play-off matches were opened up by Bulgaria and Estonia. The favored Bulgaria sent Estonia home and will play Russia on Thursday.
 
Bulgarians, considered to be the favorites, claimed the first set 25-20. They marched into the match with a clear lead thanks to properly working serves, well-organized defense and effective hits. At 13-12 Aleksiev came to the serve and scored six points in a row for Bulgaria. Estonian coach wisely took two time-outs to mobilize his players who returned to the game applying the previously proven hitters Oliver Venno and Ardo Kreek. Nervous ending saw the KV Arena with a number of serves out on both sides.
 
The second set score sheet showed an identical Bulgarian lead from the very beginning. The best volleyball copy machine would not produce better serves by Kazyiski than he did with his two aces. Estonians as if poured over with some magic water sent Venno with his hard serves and uncompromising hits into the battles. Estonia averted 4 setballs to the final score 25-23.
 
And Venno was the one to push Estonians to the lead for the first time in the match. However, Estonia didn´t keep it longer than to the first technical time. To the score 16-12, Bulgaria did not have to invest much energy. Hard serving Kivisild got his teammates back to 16-15. And Estonia put even more pressure with two even scores 19-19 and 21-21. Bulgaria, on the other hand, stayed cool and Sokolov served his ace at 23-22. The last set finished 25-22.

 

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Kert Toobal, Estonian captain: “A better team qualified. We hope we made Bulgarians a bit shaky and surprised them a bit. They had one guy (Kazyiski) with a good serve we were not able to catch. I am not disappointed. This is a very good result to be in the play-off. Now I am sad we didn´t score one set.”
 
Arvo Keel, Estonian coach: “The difference between our two teams was that Bulgaria has players with top individual skills. This is how they succeed and get medals at championships. We knew middle blockers would be attacking us. But I must admit the end of the third set was quite quick.”
 
Vladimir Nikolov, Bulgarian captain: “We are happy we managed to achieve a clear 3:0 victory. They were quite good, better than someone might have expected. We moved to Karlovy Vary from the Prague hall, which was perfect. This hall was built was hockey not for volleyball. But the conditions are equal for all the teams.”
 
Radostin Stoychev, Bulgarian coach: “This match was hard from a psychological point of view. We knew we had to win. In our sense, our advance up to 16-12 was very favorable. We expected Estonians to make more mistakes at the end. Congratulations on their performance.”
 
Bulgaria - Estonia 3:0 (25-20, 25-23,25-22)