Osaka, Japan, October 8, 2018 - Russia were given a hard time by Bulgaria before emerging victorious 3-1 in the first Pool F match of the day at Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium on Monday afternoon. Russia won 25-21, 25-20, 23-25, 25-19 to extend their win-loss record to 6-1 while dropping Bulgaria to 2-5 after seven matches in the first and second rounds.
Wing spiker Kseniia Parubets led the Russian attack with 22 points, including 20 spikes, and Irina Voronkova added 19 with 15 spikes, two blocks and two aces.
In a fine team display by Bulgaria, Gergana Dimitrova scored a team-high 19 points, followed by Mariya Karakasheva (14) and Nasya Dimitrova (13). Bulgaria notched 12 block points, with four for captain Hristina Ruseva.
Russia went into a second successive Pool F game without the services of first-round leading scorer Nataliya Goncharova (119 points), who has returned home with a shoulder injury. In her absence, Kseniia Parubets and Anna Kotikova led the Russian attack and had to work hard against a well-organised Bulgarian block.
Bulgaria pushed Russia close throughout the first set with their fine block and attack from Gergana Dimitrova, Nasya Dimitrova and Mariya Karakasheva and led 20-19, forcing a Russia TO.
Russia returned for Parubets and Ekaterina Efimova to spike them towards the first set 25-21 on their first set point - a Parubets piledriver from the left and her eighth winner of the opening frame.
In the second set, Russia showed their strength in depth with Irina Voronkova and Irina Koroleva piling on the points to lead 16-13 at the second TTO. The Bulgarians were still in it, though, and setter Lora Kitipova caught out the Russian defence with an instinctive overhead flick.
Bulgaria called a TO when they fell four points behind at 19-15 and Voronkova greeted them on their return with two successive jump serve aces, the first of which struck the top of the net and bobbled over. A leaping Parubets spike and Tatiana Romanova block carried Russia took the second set 25-20 for 2-0.
In the third set, Russia called a TO down 12-9 and trailed by five at the second TTO, 16-11, after some impressive work from Monika Krasteva, who found space on the Russian side with a swooping attack from the back court.
Karakasheva and captain Hristina Ruseva kept the pressure on and Russia were forced into another TO at 20-14 and with the third set slipping away. Gergana Dimitrova was immense down the stretch as Bulgaria held on to claim the third set 25-23.
This match had developed into a gruelling encounter with Bulgaria sensing an upset and matching anything Russia could throw at them. Parubets and Voronkova tried to reassert Russia's early dominance but Bulgaria responded resolutely with a tough block.
A series of unexpected mistakes by Bulgaria, together with some inspired play by Olga Biryukova, allowed Russia to lead 16-10 at the second TTO. Bulgaria called a TO trailing 21-16 but they could not halt Russia's march to the fourth set 25-19 for 3-1.