Final play-offs (Best of 5):
Montana - Neftochimik 2010 3-2 (1-0) (27-25, 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12) stats
A great start of the finals! Not the highest quality you could watch but a decent and dramatic match that fits the description of a final pretty well. Neftochimik conceded their first defeat after a series of 15 or 16, I don't know exactly, wins. Summarized in a sentence, the match was won by the "team" against the "stars". Neftochimik made a lot of serve errors and didn't enjoy a good day in reception, whereas the home factor, team spirit and great serves, as always, were key factors for Montana. This clash may actually oppose the two best teams in the country right now, regardless of CSKA's first position after the end of the regular phase. Montana lacks a lot of technically gifted players and squad depth but compensates with good organisation and often solid performance by the ones on the field. Agontsev and Kyossev deserve good words, as well as their main attacker, the opposite Minchev. Great defence by the libero Dobromir Ivanov, too. To stand a chance against the favourites from Burgas, Montana desperately needed a good start in the series at home. This will give them more confidence now and may even ease the pressure a bit. And the starting six needs to perform well because they have only youngsters on the bench.
Neftochimik, on the other side, still can't find the perfect rhythm for these 2-3 months since the team got together. Time hasn't been on their side, important games came quickly, problems happen too, but they compensate with class, at least in the domestic league which was fine to get them to a final. It didn't quite work well yesterday. Georgi Bratoev kept looking for his brother and Niki Nikolov, but the first was Neftochimik's weakest link at times, together with the opposite Zhani Zhelyazkov on a number of critical occasions (ignore the good attack percentage he finished with for a while), whereas the latter was well studied and read by Montana and Nikolay Kartev, to be more precise. Kartev had a major role yesterday.
The second match of the series will take place today at 17:30 CET and will be shown live on Diema Sport 2. I expect a more determined Neftochimik.