Rozalin Penchev drives Bulgaria over the top against mighty Brazil
Rozalin Penchev, who stepped in from the bench for Bulgaria, scored the most important points for the home team in Varna to make the final push towards a 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 25-15, 18-25, 15-12) victory over Olympic champs Brazil in the 12th leg of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
In three of the first four sets of the match, the 23-year-old outside hitter subbed in to help his teammates, but for the all-important tie-breaker set, coach Plamen Konstantinov put him on the starting line-up and Penchev paid back. He finished with a total of 11 points, some of which really tilted the balance in favour of Bulgaria.
All Bulgarian players chipped in significantly to the great team effort, with Valentin Bratoev leading the scorers with 14 points, followed by middle blocker Svetoslav Gotsev with 12, including the final kill for the match.
On Brazil’s side, the consistent efforts by Wallace De Souza in offence produced 22 points and made him the best scorer of the match, but did not suffice for a win over the valiant home side.
Inspired by the incessant support of the Bulgarian fans on the stands of Varna’s Palace of Culture and Sports, the Balkan Lions took the lead twice in the match, and twice the South Americans managed to level it. In the money time, the Bulgarians showed more consistency in attack to achieve their 15th win out of 46 head-to-head matches played in major world-level competitions. For Brazil this is the third consecutive defeat – something that had not happened since 2012.
After 11-10 in the tie-breaker, Rozalin Penchev went on his killing spree, which made the difference in the epilogue of the match. He fired for 12-10 to push Bulgaria a step closer to the win. At his next opportunity, Penchev exploded with a 121.7 km/h rocket, which made the score 13-11. A really long mega rally with top-level effort on both sides of the net followed and it was Penchev again, who kept his cool to finish it off in favour of his team to put Bulgaria at triple match point. Seconds later, Gotsev hammered one through the middle to get the Bulgarian party started.
For the last weekend of the round robin phase, June 22 - 24, Bulgaria will travel to Tehran to play against Germany, Korea and hosts Iran, while Brazil will visit Australia for the pool in Melbourne, where the teams of Argentina and Poland will also take part.