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26/04/2016 20:23
Drama in Sofia ends with another championship title for Maritza PLOVDIV
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Sofia/Plovdiv, Bulgaria, April 26, 2016. Maritza PLOVDIV triumphed with the women’s volleyball title in Bulgaria. The reigning champions defended their historic gold from 2015 by claiming three victories over Levski SOFIA against none for the opponent in the best-of-five championship series of the National Volleyball League Demax+.

However, it was no smooth ride for the squad from Plovdiv. Having won the first two games of the gold medal playoff by 3-1 and 3-2 at home, Maritza had to go through another five-set drama in the third match in Sofia before claiming a 3-2 (25-18, 20-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-11) victory and the precious trophy.

In spite of their away status at the Hristo Botev volleyball hall, head coach Ivan Petkov’s players felt right at home with the great support of their fans travelling from Plovdiv in numbers to beat the drums, wave the yellow-and-blue flags and be by the team’s side in their quest for the crown.

Each of the sets was quite competitive with frequent changes in the lead. In a rollercoaster match, Levski managed twice to come back from a set down to let a tie-breaker settle the issues. The home side took an early 4-1 lead in the fifth set and still had the advantage at 11-10. But it was time for Maritza to show some class. Five points in a row with Tanya Sabkova behind the serving line brought the game and the whole championship series to an end.

Levski’s Miroslava Paskova was the best scorer of the match with 24 points. Milena Dimova and Radosveta Teneva shared the honours on Maritza’s side with 15 points each.

“The emotion is somewhat different from last year because it is more difficult to repeat something that has already been achieved once,” said Ivelina Monova, one of Maritza’s liberos. “More experience and team spirit is what helped us overcome Levski. We stood together as a team, fought through the end and believed in the victory.”

“We have played about 50 games against serious opponents so far this season and this made us a very experienced and well-tuned team,” commented head coach Ivan Petkov.  “But these final matches are always played with pressure and some extra emotion, hence these five-set results. Once again, the girls proved to be real heroines and one terrific squad.”

“I cannot be more satisfied with the team’s performance after such a success,” stated Iliya Dinkov, president of VC Maritza. “As far as the game itself, it was indeed like an ancient Greek drama. Both teams gave their best in this truly beautiful match, some even played at 200%!  Now we have to find a way to get ready for playing in the Champions League.”

Before thinking about European competition, the team of Maritza has a more pressing domestic task to complete. The Kupa Bulgariya Final Four tournament will take place on May 6 and 7 in Burgas. On their way to defending the national cup as well, Maritza will face the home side of BURGAS 2007 in one of the two semi-finals, with the other one matching Levski against city arch-rival CSKA SOFIA.

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