The women’s team of Maritza Plovdiv and the men’s team of Neftochimik Burgas are the 2021 winners of the Bulgaria Cup trophies. On Friday evening, the two clubs that also represented Bulgaria in the CEV Champions League earlier this season won the national cup finals held as the culmination of a two-day event at the Vasil Levski hall in Pazardzhik.
In the women’s final Maritza Plovdiv hammered out an emphatic 3-0 (25-11, 25-13, 25-15) shutout of 19-time cup winners CSKA Sofia to re-confirm their status as Bulgaria’s dominating power in recent years. It was the sixth national cup trophy in the history of the club. Previously, they triumphed with the trophy in 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019, while in 2020 the competition was prematurely interrupted by the pandemic.
Bulgarian international Miroslava Paskova was the best scorer of the final, contributing 21 points, including two aces and two blocks, towards Maritza’s victory, and received the well-deserved MVP trophy after the game. Cuban national team middle blocker Jessica Aguilera impressed with a 100% success rate in attack and three stuffs.
The Yellow-and-Blues went through the entire competition without losing a single set. In fact, the last time they lost a set in the tournament was in the December 2017 final against Levski Sofia and the last time they lost a Bulgaria Cup match was in the May 2016 final, also against Levski.
Neftochimik had a much tougher job in the men’s final, but persevered through five hard-fought sets to celebrate a 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-11) victory over Dobrudzha 07 Dobrich. This was the fifth Bulgaria Cup trophy for the club from Burgas. They also won it in 2007, 2008, 2016 and 2018.
Middle blocker Nikolay Nikolov, expected to be a key member of the Bulgarian national team at the upcoming FIVB Volleyball Nations League, was Neftochimik’s leading scorer in the final and received the MVP award. He delivered five kill blocks towards a total tally of 15 points. Dobrudzha’s Zhulien Georgiev produced the match high of 27 points, including three aces and four stuffs.
It was the second five-setter for Neftochimik at the two-day event in Pazardzhik, which also included the men’s semifinals on Thursday. To reach the battle for the trophy, coach Nikolay Jeliazkov’s squad managed a nerve-wracking 3-2 victory over hosts and defending cup holders Hebar Pazardzhik. In their quarterfinal match back in February, Neftochimik came back from two sets down against Lokomotiv Plovdiv to claim another five-set win.
Main photo: Neftochimik and Maritza together on the Bulgaria Cup podium (source: startphoto.bg)
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