Lausanne, Switzerland, June 3, 2016 – World No. 19 Bulgaria defeated hot favourites the Dominican Republic, ranked No. 7 in the world, 3-2 (25-23, 20-25, 18-25, 25-17, 9-15) in the stand out result as eight matches signalled the start of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix 2016 on Friday.
Both Group 2 and Group 3 got underway on Friday but it was clash between Bulgaria’s Emiliya Nikolova, who scored 26 points and Dominican Republic opposite hitter Brayelin Martinez, 25 points, which stole the show on the opening day. Group 1 will start next week.Match Centres
Croatia beat Cuba 3-1 (25-17, 21-25, 25-17, 25-18) Match Centre
Colombia beat Australia 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-13) Match Centre
Peru beat Kazakhstan 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19) Match Centre
Mexico beat Algeria 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-15) Match Centre
Puerto Rica beat Czech Republic 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19) Match Centre
Poland beat Canada 3-1 (25-19, 28-30, 25-15, 25-20) Match Centre
Bulgaria beat Dominican Republic 3-2 (23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 17-25, 15-9) Match Centre
Argentina beat Kenya 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-13) Match Centre
Bulgaria’s win set them off to a strong start in Group 2 of the Preliminary Round, the team aiming to build on their success in recent years after winning the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 3 Finals in 2014, earning them a promotion into Group 2 for 2015 where they finished fifth last year.
The opening day of preliminary round matches saw eight matches played, four in Group 2 and four in Group 3. Argentina emerge top of Group 2 after day one following an impressive straight sets victory over Kenya 3-0 (25-22, 25-21 and 25-13). Despite Kenya’s Brackcides Khadambi securing 17 points for the African nation, a close knit team effort from Argentina turned the match in their favour for a straight sets win in just under one and a half hours.
Emilce Sosa, Argentina captain said, "I'm so happy for the victory, we didn't play our best volleyball, but I think this is the first match and we're going to improve in the following ones. We have two strong rivals on Saturday and Sunday, and we will try to do our best. Today Kenya played good and it was a good match."Argentina will face Bulgaria and the Dominican Republic in their following Group 2 matches.
Also in Group 2, the Czech Republic faced Puerto Rico in Zielona Góra (Poland) with super scorer Karina Ocasio helping Puerto Rico to the win 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19) in their opening match.The 30-year-old contributed 17 points, continuing in the same vein as last year's World Grand Prix when she was the Group 2 top scorer with 146 points and second best scorer in last month's World Olympic Qualification tournament (39 points), where Puerto Rico qualified for the Olympics for the first time.
Poland and Canada were next up in Group 2 in Zielona Góra (Poland). It was Poland’s Berenika Tomsia who played the crucial role in the teams victory over Canada 3-1 (25-19, 28-30, 25-15, 25-20). Tomsia impressed the home crowd with 23 points scored with superior spiking (19) and blocking (4) skills. The result was a birthday present home win for Malwina Smarzek one of the youngest players in coach Janek Nawrocki’s roster.
In Group 3, it is Colombia who top the rankings after the first match defeating Australia in an impressive display of power volleyball to win 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-13) in Bendigo (Australia).The packed stadium showed big support for the Australian players, Karley Hynes providing most points for the team (11), but with top scorers Madelaynne Montano (14) and Moreno Kenny (13) the Colombian block remained solid.
Peru proved too strong for Kazakhstan in Group 3 earning valuable points taking the win over 3-1 (21-25, 25-21, 24-26, 16-25) in Algiers (Algeria). Angela Leyva was the star of the show for Peru, as she scored 31 points ending the day as overall top scorer.
The other match of the day in Algiers was host nation Algeria up against Mexico. Lizbeth Sainz inspired Mexico’s victory 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-15) scoring 12 points for the team. Algeria’s Yasmine Abderrahim was the standout scorer for Algeria securing 15 points in front of her home crowd.
The experience of Croatia was too much for Cuba with the Europeans closing the match 3-1 (25-17, 21-25, 25-17, 25-18). The Cubans fielding a very young team in Bendigo, the oldest player just 24, and two of their squad just 16-years-old. Croatia also with plenty of young players and two 16-year-olds of their own, has a good sprinkling of experienced players which proved the difference in their opening preliminary match.
Top Scorer by Day
31 - Angela Leyva of Peru v Kazakhstan on June 3Top Scoring Performances
31 - Angela Leyva of Peru v Kazakhstan on June 3
26 - Emiliya Nikolova of Bulgaria v Dominican Republic on June 3Top Individual Serving Performances
6 – Ana Grejman of Poland v Canada on June 3Top Team Serving Performances
13 – Croatia v Cuba on June 3 Top Individual Blocking Performances
7 - Candida Estefany Arias Perez of Dominican Republic v Bulgaria on June 3Top Team Blocking Performances
16 – Poland v Canada on June 3Highest Scoring Sets
28-30 – Poland v Canada on June 3Highest Scoring Matches
202 – Bulgaria v Dominican Republic 3-2 (23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 17-25, 15-9) on June 3