VNL: Bulgaria stuns Canada for first win

Canada vs Bulgaria in VNL Week 2 in Manila. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Bulgaria shocked Canada, 26-24, 25-22, 25-21, to bag its first victory in Week 2 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Opposite spiker Maria Yordanova delivered 15 points and nine digs to end the skid of the Bulgarians, who lost back-to-back matches in three sets to reigning champion United States and unbeaten leader Japan.

“We were prepared for this game. We were focused on these games against Canada and Belgium. So tomorrow, I hope we can win again,” said Yordanova. “Every game is important. We will fight and we will see what will happen,” she added.

Miroslava Paskova also stepped up with 14 points, eight receptions, and eight digs. Fellow outside hitter Silvana Chausheva scored 12 points, while middle blocker Nasya Dimitrova added 11 points including three blocks.

Setter Lora Kitipova scattered the offensive loads as Bulgaria improved with a 2-5 record in the 13th place, keeping its hopes alive of making it to next month’s Finals in Ankara, where the top seven teams and host Turkey will play from July 13 to 17, and more importantly, avoiding relegation.

The Bulgarian skipper stressed the need to win their final Philippine match against Belgium at 11 a.m. on Sunday as well as in producing a good performance in the third and final week at home in Sofia.

“If we win against Belgium and Dominican Republic (in Sofia on June 29), we will stay in the VNL and we won’t go to the Challenge tournament.  This is our goal to play again in next year’s VNL,” said Kitipova.

The last-placed team in the VNL will play in the Challenger Cup which will be held in Zadar, Croatia on July 28-31.

Meanwhile, Kiera Van Ryk delivered 20 points including three aces, and collected eight digs. Emily Maglio contributed 13 points, as Alexa Gray added 10 only for the Canadians to win one match in their four Quezon City games

Canada dropped to 3-5 in the 10th place. Van Ryk said her team will regroup to bounce back in the final leg at home in Calgary.

“It was really up and down personally,” said Van Ryk.   “As a team, we could have been steady all throughout. When we played Belgium, we played at our level, we played our volleyball and we played really well. In our other matches, we were really up and down.”

Van Ryk remained optimistic about their chances to reach the Final round in Ankara.

“Of course, that’s our goal. We will gonna keep fighting. I don’t know the numbers, I don’t know like how we have to do, probably we have to win our games,” she added. “We will take it one game at a time. Go home recover and go up stronger when we go back to Canada.”

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