Flier led the score table for the Dutch in 3:1 victory over Bulgaria
Modena, Italy. October 5, 2014 – With Pool F having already produced its three participants to the final six, Bulgaria and the Netherlands had nothing but pride to defend in their last game at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014. In Pool F final match, the Dutch prevailed 3-1 (24:26, 25:21, 25:23, 25:16).
The Netherland’s Manon Flier was the best scorer for the Netherlands with 24 points, but Bulgaria’s Elitsa Vasileva did even better as she scored 25. Serve was crucial to the Dutch success (9 aces to 3) as well as Carlijn Jans’s 4 blocks (12 overall for the Netherlands, 9 for Bulgaria).
• Bulgaria had won all three previous World Championship meetings with Netherlands by 3-0. Only against Cuba (5), Brazil (4) and Russia (4) had Netherlands lost more World Championship matches in straight sets.
• In all World Championships since 1998, Netherlands managed to win at least one match in the second round/second group stage. Since they had previously lost three matches over three in the second round, the win over Bulgaria fixed it.
• Bulgaria maintained sixth place over seventh-place Netherlands based on set ratio tiebreaker.
With captain Robin de Krujif out of the 12, it took a while for the Netherlands to find their leader on the court; on the other hand Bulgaria, who could not count on Dobriana Rabadzhieva for a shoulder injury sustained the night before, put the ball in Elitsa Vasileva’s hands and were well repaid in the early part of the first set (8:4). Veteran Manon Flier lead her teammates’ reaction (8:7), forcing World Champion coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin to call his first timeout. In a very balanced first set, Bulgaria kept a single point of advantage thanks to a very efficient blocking system (16:15); but blocks also allowed the Dutch to retake the lead, as Carlijn Jans said “no” to Bulgarian captain Strashimira Filipova’s fast attack (18:16). Buijs’s and Jans’s serve shook the Bulgarian second line, widening the gap (24:19); but Bulgaria’s reaction was fierce, with three winning attacks by Vasileva and a big block by Tsvetelina Zarkova (24:23), before an offensive mistake by Flier evened the score (24:24). Vasileva’s block on Quinta Steenbergen and subsequent attack completed Bulgaria’s seven-point comeback (26:24).
In the second set, the Netherlands immediately obtained a five-point break thanks to Flier’s attack and Bulgaria’s offensive mistakes (7:2), but the Bulgarians came back again as spiker Kremena Kamenova narrowed the gap to a single point (11:10). Another break for the Dutch was provided by Jans’s blocks and Vasileva’s troubles in reception (16:11). Flier went on double digits early for a six-point Dutch lead (19:13) before suffering another comeback: Elena Koleva’s attack, followed by Zarkova’s block, brought Bulgaria very close (23:21), but then an error by Diana Nenova on the serve and a spike on the sideline by Lonneke Sloetjes equalized the set count (25:21).
Flier kept playing superior volleyball in the third set as the Dutch owed another early break to her blocks (6:1), but Bulgaria neutralized the gap as usual on Vasileva’s serve (9:9). The Netherlands won’t give up their lead, though, and went to rest for the second technical timeout with a three-point advantage (16:13) before Vasileva’s 17th point of the game equalized again and Filipova’s attack put Bulgaria ahead (17:16). The lead kept changing hands until Koleva produced a two-point break from zone 2 (21:19), but it did not last, as Flier attacked for an even score and Steenbergen found the advantage with a perfect block on Ruseva (23:22); finally, an ace by unstoppable Manon Flier took it all (25:23).
The battle continued with sudden lead switches in the fourth, too, as Bulgaria took an early advantage (6:3) immediately reversed by the Dutch (8:6). Jans kept marking Vasileva one-to-one and blocked her for a four-point advantage (12:8), but Bulgaria’s top scorer of the night did not lose her temper and answered with three consecutive winning attacks (13:11). Her inaccurate reception, however, allowed Sloetjes to grant the Netherlands the largest advantage of the set (20:14) and this time the Dutch did not turn back (25:16).