USA’s seventh wonder leaves Bulgaria breathless


Unstoppable: Team USA has won seven over seven

Modena, Italy. October 2, 2014 – The USA’s clean path in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2014, with seven full victories over seven matches, was threatened by Bulgaria in the second game of Pool F. But the Americans proved to be too strong again, winning 3-0 (25:17, 25:18, 25:16).

Kelly Murphy was the top scorer for the U.S. with 14 points, while the Premium Panathlon -Lella Pavarotti award for the most impressive player of the match was given to Kelsey Robinson by 2002 World Champion Simona Rinieri. Emiliya Nikolova led the score for Bulgaria with 13 points. No blocks were performed by Bulgaria, while the USA had seven; Bulgaria was also outscored 7-2 on service aces.

Key Facts:
- Bulgaria were unbeaten in two matches against United States at World Championships. In 1956 and 1998, the Bulgarians won 3-1 and 3-0 respectively.
- United States are the only nation with maximum points after seven matches (21) and in the second round with 15 points.
- United States started the World Championship with seven victories for only the second time, after winning the first 10 matches in 2002. Back then, their first defeat came in the final against Italy.
- United States have won 10 of their last 12 matches against teams from Europe. The two defeats came against Russia and Italy in 2010.

It took the USA half of the first set to gain the first significant advantage over Bulgaria (14:12), who were able to immediately catch up with Dobriana Rabadzhieva’s zone 4 attack and strong team defense (14:14). Foluke Akinradewo’s effective serve decreased the quality of Bulgaria’s reception, giving Nicole Fawcett and her teammates to block efficiently (19:16); Tetori Dixon’s perfect offensive percentage increased the lead (21:17), and Kelly Murphy’s attack from zone 2 did the rest (25:17).

Nasya Dimitrova, rewarded with a place in the starting six by coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin after the good performance against Russia, helped her fellow Bulgarians keep the pace of the Americans in the second set (6:5); US setter Alisha Glass kept feeding Dixon the ball for fast attacks to regain the lead (8:7). Kelly Murphy’s block gave the Americans a five point lead (14:9) before Emiliya Nikolova snapped their five-point streak, but Bulgaria’s reaction was only temporary, as Kelsey Robinson and Kelly Murphy were unstoppable from the first line (18:10). Kuzyutkin’s players were able to narrow the gap to four points again (22:18), but were caught unprepared by a second-line attack by Kimberly Hill in the middle of their struggle to come back from behind (23:18), and Murphy could close from zone 2 (25:18).

Two unforced errors by the Bulgarians helped the US take the early lead in the third set (5:1); an ace by Elitsa Vasileva and two attacks by Dimitrova, however, immediately closed the gap (8:8) and two consecutive offensive mistakes by the Americans gave Bulgaria the first lead of the set (10:9). The USA reaction was triggered by Kim Hill’s four aces, that opened an eight-point streak (18:11) neutralizing Bulgaria’s hopes to get back in the game (25:16).


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