Tucuman, Argentina, June, 3, 2016 - The clash between Bulgaria’s Emiliya Nikolova, who scored 26 points, and Dominican Republic opposite hitter Brayelin Martinez, 25 points, stole the show in Bulgaria's 3-2 (25-23, 20-25, 18-25, 25-17, 9-15) win in their opening match of Group 2.
World No. 19 Bulgaria, who finished fifth in last year's Group 2, proved too good for Dominican Republic, who are ranked No. 7 in the world and were relegated from Group 1 last year.
It was the second time in two World Grand Prix matches that the winner had clinched victory in the fifth set. The Dominican Republic had won the only previous World Grand Prix encounter between the two teams 3-2 after a 16-14 final set victory in 2013.
The beginning of the match showed a well prepared Dominican block especially at the hand of Candida Estefany Arias Perez. Nevertheless, captain Eva Yaneva pulled her team to lead 6-8. Brayelin Martínez appeared with her strong spikes to tie the game and then turned the score 16-14 from the service line.
Peña Isabel was the other clue for Dominicans to route the game, and even when Gergana Dimitrova made one more attempt, Marianne Fersola Norberto finished the set 25-23.
Martinez made some noise once again with her hands up to stop Bulgaria's attack, but Viktoriya Grigorova fueled her team's hopes and her teammate Gergana Dimitrova completed the task to make 16-14.
Nikolova started to grow to become the first card of her team to show a great offensive level and tied the score, 25-20. The third set was similar to the end of the previous one, with Bulgaria leading from the start thanks to an amazing job of opposite Nikolova. The score was 8-1 and when Dominican Republic tried to wake up, Bulgaria answered well thanks to setter Petya Barakova's good decisions. Bethania De La Cruz De Peña tried one more time, but Nasya Dimitrova sentenced the set 25-18.Related information:
The fourth chapter was once again of the Dominican Republic, that made the first difference with the block. Martinez appeared again to maintain her team and widen the gap 16-11. Every rally point was for the Dominicans, playing to force the tie break.
The last set was all about opposite hitters; Bulgaria came across thanks to its defense, but Martinez fought and held the Dominican Republic close. Star Nikolova showed she was in the house with several attacks that drove the Europeans ahead. The final part was all about Bulgaria, closing the game 15-9.