Top guns Aleksiev and Sokolov back to Bulgarian roster


All 14 players, who represented Bulgaria at EuroVolley 2017, are back on the roster for the 2019 VNL

Sofia, Bulgaria, May 6, 2019 – Bulgarian top guns Todor Aleksiev and Tsvetan Sokolov are back on the men’s national team after new head coach Silvano Prandi announced the names of 30 players included in the extended roster of the southern European side ahead of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Setters: Chono Penchev, Georgi Bratoev, Georgi Seganov, Vladimir Stankov
Opposites: Nikolay Uchikov, Radoslav Parapunov, Tsvetan Sokolov, Velizar Chernokozhev
Outside hitters: Asparuh Asparuhov, Georgi Petrov, Gordan Lyutskanov, Martin Atanasov, Nikolay Penchev, Plamen Shekerdzhiev, Rozalin Penchev, Todor Aleksiev, Todor Skrimov, Valentin Bratoev
Middle blockers: Aleks Grozdanov, Krasimir Georgiev, Nikolay Kolev, Nikolay Nikolov, Svetoslav Gotsev, Teodor Todorov, Viktor Yosifov
Liberos: Ivaylo Lalov, Martin Ivanov, Petar Karakashev, Teodor Salparov, Vladislav Ivanov

207-cm-tall opposite Sokolov skipped the entire 2018 national team season because of surgery, but is ready to rejoin the Bulgarian squad for the start of the 2019 edition of the VNL on May 31. Currently, the 29-year-old player of Cucine Lube Civitanova is involved in the championship series of Italy’s domestic league. Sokolov will also be part of the CEV Champions League final on May 18 to complete the club season before joining the national team.

36-year-old Todor Aleksiev, former captain of Bulgaria, has accepted Silvano Prandi’s invitation to return to the team. He last appeared in the white-green-and-red jersey at the 2017 European Championship. The 204-cm-tall outside hitter is also still busy with his club team, as Olympiacos Piraeus lead the gold medal series in Greece by one victory to none.

Experienced setter Georgi Bratoev, who sustained a heavy injury during the 2018 VNL and missed the 2018 World Championship, has recovered completely. The 31-year-old playmaker is back on the national team after he lifted Bulgaria’s champions trophy with his club team Neftohimik 2010 Burgas last month.

Georgi Bratoev in action during the 2018 VNL

Another former captain and setter of the Lions, Andrey Zhekov, has accepted Silvano Prandi’s offer to join his staff as assistant coach and will lead the team’s preparation starting with 15 athletes on Monday in Sofia while the Italian head coach is still busy with his club side Chaumont VB 52 Haute-Marne in the French league’s gold medal playoff.

Bulgaria will play a couple of friendly matches against Serbia in Belgrade on May 24 and 25 before flying off to Argentina for the start of the VNL.