Bulgaria won its quarter-final match at the European men’s volleyball championship on September 25 and will play Italy in the second semi-final on September 28.
Bulgaria started the match against Germany well, but lost the first set after squandering a five-point lead. The second and third sets were close affairs, which Bulgaria closed out efficiently; in the fourth, Bulgaria once again took a big lead, but this time, there would be no late meltdown to keep Germany in the match.
The final score was 28-30, 27-25, 25-22, 25-20 as Bulgaria avoided playing a five-set match on back-to-back nights. Tsvetan Sokolov was once again Bulgaria’s most prolific attacker, adding 29 points to the 35 he scored the previous night in the comeback win against Poland and staking a claim for the tournament’s top scorer.
After two gruelling matches, Bulgaria gets two days of much-needed rest before playing Italy, a team that denied Bulgaria bronze medals both at the 2012 London Olympics and in the 2013 World League.
Bulgaria has never finished higher than second in European championships and did so only once, in 1951. Since then, Bulgaria has finished third on four occasions, most recently in 2009.
A spot in the final also carries an automatic berth in next year’s world championship in Poland, as well as for the 2015 World Cup in Japan.
Russia will play defending Serbia in the other semi-final, in a rematch of the dramatic semi-final the two teams played in 2011, when Serbia upset Russia en route to winning the title.