A winning start for co-hosts Bulgaria at Men's World Championship
Valentin Bratoev and Teodor Salparov celebrate during Bulgaria - Finland, the opening match of Pool D of FIVB Men's Volleyball World Championship
Varna, Bulgaria, September 9, 2018 - Bulgaria beat Finland 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-22) in the opening match in Pool D of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Volleyball Championship.
In front of an energetic crowd of 4500 fans in the Palace of Culture and Sport in Varna, led by President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev and Minister of sport Krasen Kralev, The Lions methodically outclassed the visiting team getting revenge for the loss at the 2014 World Championship which eliminated them in the second phase.
Nikolay Uchikov led the way with 14 points for the winners. Valentin Bratoev finished with 13 and Todor Skrimov added 11.
Bulgaria started with an ace from Valentin Bratoev but neither team led by more than two points until 14-14. Finland went ahead 15-14 after a monstrous block by Tommi Siirila before Bulgaria won five of the next six points. A long and grueling point at 19-18 was decided by a spike from Nikolay Uchikov before a block by Bratoev and an ace by captain Viktor Yosifov iced the set for the hosts. Bulgaria used the momentum and started strong in the second set. The Lions led 8-5 and 9-6 before Sauli Sinkkonen hit Finland’s first ace and tied at 11 apiece. And then the floodgates opened. Aces by Yosifov and Georgi Seganov put Bulgaria 16-11 ahead. A couple of sideouts later the set was over. Despite having managed just a single point from a block the hosts were two sets to nil in front.
Searching a change of fortunes Finland’s coach Tuomas Sammelvuo made a change in the lineup replacing Tommi Siirila with Niko Suihkonen. And at the beginning of the third set things looked a little more promising for the visitors. The score was tied 11 times before Bratoev’s third ace of the match put Bulgaria 20-18 ahead. And the Finns didn’t come closer than two points until the end. A spike by Uchikov clinched the win – the third for Bulgaria against Finland out of four meetings at a World Championship.