Mariya Karakasheva attacks against Canada on Thursday
Sapporo, Japan, October 4, 2018 – Bulgaria had to fight hard to earn their place in the second round, edging Canada 3-1 (23-25, 27-25, 25-21, 25-21) on the last day of first-round action in the FIVB World Championship at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center on Thursday.
Bulgaria were led by Gergana and Nasya Dimitrova who both had 17 points, with Nasya’s total including three aces. Canada’s top scorers were Autumn Bailey and Kiera Van Ryk, who each scored 18 points with both picking up four aces. Emily Maglio’s 12 points included six blocking points.
The two teams were well matched. Both had seven blocking points and eight service points. Canada had 20 errors to Bulgaria’s 22. Canada ended the first round 1-4, while Bulgaria finished 2-3.
Canada started the first set with two aces and ended it with another. Bailey smacked two winners at Bulgarian libero Zhana Todorova to get the set off to a good start for Canada, but Maglio sent their next serve into the net as Bulgaria fought back. Bailey and Mariya Karakasheva exchanged spikes but there was nothing to separate the two teams. Maglio made a couple of great blocks and a super kill after a great set by Megan Cyr. Bulgaria didn’t help themselves with two errors, the second of which put Canada 23-22 ahead. Gergana Dimitrova responded with a massive thump, but Alexa Gray brought up setpoint, allowing Van Ryk to finish the set with a cracking ace.
Bulgaria responded well at the start of the second set, boosted by a service ace from Lora Kitipova and a neat tipover by Gergana Dimitrova that put the Bulgarians up 4-2. Canada were dealt a blow at this point when setter Megan Cyr was helped off the court after twisting her ankle and was unable to play any further part in the match. As Canada regrouped, Bulgaria forged ahead, helped in part by Canada reaching for balls that were going out. After a block by Hristina Ruseva on Van Ryk, Canada coach Marcello Abbondanza called a timeout, but a hard shot by Miroslava Paskova stretched Bulgaria’s lead to 12-6. Van Ryk pushed back with a cracking crosscourt kill and another service ace that saw Ivan Petkov hauling his players off court at 14-11. A beautiful line drive by Bailey brought Canada level at 15 and the teams fought it out to 22-22 when Gergana Dimitrova came up with a pair of spikes that earned Bulgaria two setpoints. Canada fought back to level at 24 on a long shot by Bulgaria’s Karakasheva and another error by the Bulgarians made it 25-25. Karakasheva made it 26-25 with a drive down the left and an ace by Kitipova drew Bulgaria level.
There was no let-up in intensity in the third set. Bulgaria were two points ahead at the first technical timeout and two good hits by Gergana Dimitrova and an ace by Nasya Dimitrova saw them go four points clear at 14-10, when Canada called a timeout. Bulgaria then got sloppy and when Kitipova saw her serve come back off the net cord, Canada were only a point back at 15-14. A service ace by Karakasheva and a misfire by Bailey saw Bulgaria five points ahead at 19-14. Terrific work by Brianna Beamish kept Canada’s hopes alive and they closed to 22-21, but Van Ryk sent her next serve into the net. Nasya Dimitrova finished things off for Bulgaria with a spike and a block on Jennifer Cross and Bulgaria were 2-1 up.
Canadian errors allowed Bulgaria to creep into a 13-10 lead in the fourth set but after a kill and another service ace by Van Ryk the teams were level at 13. They went back and fore to 20-20 when Van Ryk sent a shot long. Canada called a timeout but a block by Paskova, a long shot by Van Ryk and a hit by Ruseva handed Bulgaria four matchpoints. Gergana Dimitrova ended the match with a trademark smash.