Captain Hristina Ruseva catches Colombia's Valerin Carabali off position as she strikes to lead Bulgaria to the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
Lima, Peru, June 24, 2018 - Bulgaria survived a first-set scare and came back to defeat Colombia 3-1 (22-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23) in the final and take first place in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup, earning a place in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
Bulgaria put up huge blocks to stop Colombia, getting in 18 stuffs (six from captain Hristina Ruseva alone), as Mariya Karakasheva scored 20 points from the outside. Colombia's Dayana Segovia was still the best scorer of the game on 24, as she and teammate Amanda Coneo emerged the overall top scorers of the tournament on 76 and 63 points respectively after five matches.
Despite the defeat, Colombia coach Antonio Rizola was happy with the participation of his team in the tournament. "I am very happy with the participation of my team in the Challenger Cup," he said. "In each match we managed to demonstrate our growth and that is what is important for every coach. Today what we lacked was experience, Bulgaria is a team with a very good level; we lacked the ability to close the sets when we had the advantage, but I am happy for my team. It is getting more mature.
"Bulgaria beat us because of their experience," added Colombia captain Maria Alejandra Marin. "We made silly mistakes but it is part of our growth. We will study this game, we will work on improving our weaknesses and we will think about preparing to produce a good performance in the Pan American Cup in the Dominican Republic."
Puerto Rico edge hosts for third place
Previously on Sunday in Lima, Shirley Ferrer scored 28 points as Puerto Rico twice came back from a set down to edge hosts Peru 3-2 (22-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-17, 16-14) for third place in the VCC.
Peru lacked in attacking efficiency and were also outblocked by the Caribbean side.
"I'm happy with the result, although we didn't get the final," said Puerto Rico coach Abdel Otero after the game. "It was an excellent match and I'm happy to finish with a victory and third place."
Quick links: FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cups