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23/06/2015 09:00
Elitsa Vasileva and the story of a world record
2015 European Games

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 23, 2015. It was apparently an average December day in South Korea. Cold weather in the city of Incheon, in the East-coast region of the Asian country, was not offering the best conditions for sport. However, a remarkable achievement in Volleyball history was about to be accomplished.   

“I don’t think I did anything special. It was a normal day,” says Bulgarian Elitsa Vasileva, looking back at that occasion in which the now 25-year-old player registered her name in the history of the sport. The Volleyball fans that were present at the Gyeyang Gymnasium sports hall in Incheon may not recall the event just the same way as the humble and soft-spoken 1.94-metres-tall outside spiker. Because that day of December 2013, Elitsa Vasileva broke the scoring world record. The Bulgarian star signed the stunning tally of 57 points in one single match.  

“It wasn’t so special!” commented Vasileva, who at that time was playing in the South Korean V-league under the ranks of INCHEON Heungkuk Life Pink Spiders. “I remember that it was a five-setter game and that they gave me a lot of balls!,” she explains.

Two and a half years later, the athlete born in the Bulgarian city of Dupnitsa has guided her national team in the inaugural European Games being held in Baku, and as she has just wrapped up her participation in the historic competition, she recalled the memorable day. “I remember that I was really trying to concentrate on the game when I arrived at the sports hall; I tried to be relaxed, but apart from that, I don’t think I did anything out of the extraordinary or different from other days,” the captain of the Bulgarian national team recounts.

Whether Vasileva invoked or not the wizards of Volleyball with her pre-game protocols, when the match started, the Bulgarian ace produced a magical and once-in-a-lifetime performance, a conquest of offensive Volleyball that the star hopes to repeat one day. In a festival of non-stop spikes and foolproof attacks, Vasileva led her team INCHEON Heungkuk Life Pink Spiders to beat GIMCHEON Korea Expressway Hi-pass in five sets 3:2 (22-25, 25-19, 25-23, 20-25, 15-13). The player, who next season will join the ranks of Russian giant Dinamo KAZAN, tallied 57 points in the clash. This figure means that she closed more points than all of her teammates combined, since they totaled 50.

“Playing in Korea, especially being a foreigner, means that you have to hit a lot of balls; that match was not different from other days. Foreign players participate very much in the game and have a lot of responsibility, so at that time it wasn’t strange for me to receive so many passes,” declares Vasileva, who admits that during the game she wasn’t aware of doing anything out of the ordinary. “I was just doing my job, trying to score every time they passed me the ball. After the match, my coach told me that it could be a world record. I didn’t know about it, I never look at the statistics”, she adds.

The stratospheric figure was achieved after closing 51 points in offensive actions, four blocks and two aces. Ever since the introduction of the rally point system, no other player has been able to surpass Vasileva’s accomplishment. Her mark beat the previous record of 55 points signed by Nicole Fawcett, also in a match of the South Korean league. “I really enjoyed being in South Korea. It was very different from my previous experiences but I only have good memories from that championship. I may go back one day…If they still want me,” says Vasileva, who has also worn the shirt of teams like Bulgaria’s CSKA SOFIA, Italian sides Esperia CREMONA Pallavolo, Pallavolo Sirio PERUGIA, Volley BERGAMO, as well as Campinas Voleibol Clube in Brazil and VakifBank ISTANBUL in Turkey.

As the Bulgarian star finished her participation in the tournament being held in Baku, the best spiker and best scorer of the 2012 CEV Volleyball European League lives now the bittersweet feeling of having enjoyed her time at the first European Games while lamenting the early elimination of her team. “My experience here has been very special. But I also feel sad because we had the opportunity to do something great and now we are going home. It is very sad for me,” comments Vasileva, reflecting on the erratic path of Bulgaria in the competition.

While new epic feats and new opportunities to shine may appear in the horizon of the Bulgarian heroine, Vasileva can always go back to that day when she made history, that day when, as she points out, she was just doing her job and she did “nothing special.”  

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