Plovdiv, Bulgaria, June 28, 2019 – Bulgaria defeated USA 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-23) in front of 5400 enthusiastic fans in Kolodrum Hall in the first ever VNL pool in Plovdiv on Friday.
Bulgaria player Tsvetan Sokolov: "We are happy because of the win. We didn’t make any calculations about what we needed to stay in the tournament for next year. For us it was important to play good volleyball. There were a lot of fans in the arena. To play in front of our supporters is something special. They always stay behind us, they always help us. They were the seventh player in our team."
Bulgaria captain Viktor Yosifov: "We won because we played as a team. There was a lot of positivity on the court. We played with a smile on our faces, we helped each other. For me as a first match after a long break I think it was not that bad but we need more time to implement the new tactical system of our coach."
Bulgaria coach Silvano Prandi: “USA started strong but we managed to disrupt their transition from reception to attack. With players like Yosifov, Nikolov and Salparov the level of our team rose immensely. Naturally in many of the elements we were way better than in the previous matches. Not to mention the incredible Tsvetan Sokolov – almost 70% kill rate in attack! And what’s the most satisfying for me – we had one counter-attack chance more than the Americans. Which means we have digged one ball more than them. Usually it’s the other way around."
USA coach Robert Neilson: "It was a battle. We just had a hard time lining up with #19 (Tsvetan Sokolov). He had an unbelievably good match. Obviously he is a world class player. It’s a tough Bulgarian team. I think our young guys played well but we didn’t execute a few points that we needed. We weren’t surprised with the performance of the Bulgarian team. We knew that they are very strong from the service line as well as they have their world class opposite – Sokolov. We got distracted in the 3rd and 4th set and that’s why we lost."
USA captain Micah Ma’a: "We started pretty strong, we had a good energy. I think we served well. Then in the second set we made too many errors and they just came back. After that it was a dogfight. I personally have not seen them on court before. It was my first time playing against Bulgaria so I didn’t have any expectations and I am not surprised with their good performance."