Varna, Bulgaria, June 18, 2016 - Poland will challenge the Dominican Republic in Sunday’s final in Group 2 of FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix 2016. Led forward by their top scorer Berenika Tomsia and their top blocker Agnieszka Kakolewska, the Poles crushed Bulgaria’s hopes for a final in front of the home fans with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-21) semifinal victory in Varna.
Berenika Tomsia contributed a fantastic 25 points to Poland’s win, while Agnieszka Kakolewska excelled in blocking, accounting for seven of her team’s 19 points from that element. Eva Yaneva was Bulgaria’s most prolific scorer with 22 points.
This victory brings Poland’s winning streak against Bulgaria in major international competitions to six consecutive matches.
Led by captain Eva Yaneva, Bulgaria took an 8-5 lead at the first technical time-out. It was time for Berenika Tomsia to show her scoring skills. The Poles turned the score around and could already see themselves as winners with a 22-19 lead. But the Bulgarians did not see things that way. Some great blocking by the home team and an ace by Emiliya Nikolova for the last point led to a dramatic 25-23 ending in favour of Bulgaria.
This could have been the story of the second set as well, except for the ending. It was not Bulgaria’s Emiliya Nikolova, but Poland’s Emilia Mucha, with a successful attack, that closed the set. Despite Yaneva’s prolific spiking, this time Bulgaria could not find a way to come back from an 18-22 deficit. Poland showed an outstanding performance in the blocking department – a 7-point contribution to the 25-21 win.
The third set was quite competitive through 9-9, with Agnieszka Kakolewska’s excellent blocking contributing to Poland’s performance. After that, coach Jacek Nawrocki’s squad started piling up an advantage in the score, mainly thanks to Joanna Wolosz’s high-level setting and Berenika Tomsia’s successful spikes. It was a beautiful combination between the two of them that finished the set off at an impressive 25-15 Poland’s way.
Despite the many substitutions coach Ivan Dimitrov attempted, the home side was no match for the Poles in the first half of the fourth set. With Kakolewska on fire, the white-and-red completely dominated on the court outplaying the Bulgarians especially in blocking and serving to break away to a 9-point lead at 16-7. With the enthusiastic support from the stands, the Lionesses clawed their way to reducing the gap to only two points at 18-20 and then at 21-23, but this was not enough to completely turn things around. An attacking error gave Poland the victory at 25-21.