Bulgarian Superliga 2016-2017

  • 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.

  • Neftochimik 2010 - Montana 3-0 (2-1) (25-20, 25-23, 25-17)
    Neftochimik 2010 - Montana 3-1 (3-1) (25-20, 25-22, 19-25, 25-19) stats

    Neftochimik 2010 from Burgas is the new Bulgarian champion! This is the second title for the club and their first since 2007, won exactly 10 years ago. Montana wasn't capable of dealing with the host in the third and fourth leg, coming close only in some sets and usually struggling at the end of those. They won the third one in the last match and thus hinted that the fight may not have ended yet, but Neftochimik was simply the better team. Anyway, Montana fought bravely at home, won the opener 3-2 and should have taken the second match as well in order to send the series back at home. Neftochimik's mercenaries were simply too strong for the level of the league. Which reminds me that the Cup finals which start next week will be again very interesting as the teams recruited NT "mercenaries". I will write those in a separate post.

    The club seems serious in their intentions to participate in the Champions League qualies next season and to build a (keep the) strong team. The sports hall in Burgas is not big enough even for the qualifiers, the new one in the city will not have been finished by the second part of 2018, so we will know later this year where they might play. I hope they can make a good team in order to stand a chance both in the league and in Europe.

  • The Cup finals start today in Dobrich. Here once more the draw and the teams:

    Group A: Neftochimik 2010, Cherno more, Dobrudzha 07
    Group B: CSKA, Pirin, Montana

    Cherno more against the hosts Dobrudzha and CSKA vs. Montana are the first two matches of the programme. The Bulgarian Cup finals are starting to look like the Emir's Cup in Qatar. For a second season in a row, free NT members and players with no duties abroad have been recruited for a week in order to play. Similar was the case last season when Neftochimik 2010, with Salparov, Uchikov, and Niki Nikolov, won the finals at home. This year's recruitment list includes:

    Neftochimik 2010: Nikolay Uchikov (OPP), Rozalin Penchev (OH)
    CSKA and Pirin: none
    Cherno more: Viktor Yosifov (MB), Miroslav Gradinarov (OH), Yavor Genov (OH)
    Dobrudzha 07: Dobromir Dimitrov (S), Martin Atanasov (OH)
    Montana: Todor Skrimov (OH), Teodor Todorov (MB), Boyan Yordanov (OPP)

    Respect to CSKA and Pirin for the principles demonstrated. Although frankly speaking, Pirin wanted to recruit Gotsev and Seganov (former youth/senior players of the team), but there were obstacles for the transfers to happen. Still, Pirin didn't spend money just for the sake of it.

  • Group A:

    Cherno more - Dobrudzha 07 0-3 (13-25, 18-25, 22-25)

    Group B:

    CSKA - Montana 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 22-25, 27-25) video highlights

    A very good match took place already in day 1. Montana, with NT members Todor Skrimov and Teodor Todorov, lost to CSKA. Skrimov isn't in great shape, he struggled in reception as could be seen several times in the video. One would usually see those mistakes happen at the beginning of a new season rather than at its end. We know Milano had a disappointing season, I guess his level dropped with that of the team. Todorov, meanwhile, is still recovering from the surgery he underwent. He had only had two matches for Gazprom-Ugra before yesterday. Montana's most reliable OH Zlatko Kyossev is injured and didnt play, hence the appearance of Skrimov was very much needed but didn't produce the expected result. CSKA, on the other side, demonstrated a solid game, kind of declaring themselves as team N2 in Bulgaria this season.

    A few of the "foreigners" are still ineligible to play due to delays of the release certificates from their respective clubs. Boyan Yordanov can't be recruited by Montana yet, whereas Rozalin Penchev probably won't make it on time for Neftochimik. Even if the Burgas-based team doesn't need serious reinforcement, they have problems with the OHs as the youngster Georgi Petrov is currently at the U19 ECH in Hungary. Only Martin Penev and Valentin Bratoev are available, this is why Neftochimik needed an urgent solution for Rozalin.

  • Better late than never, the results of the Bulgarian Cup Finals:


    Neftochimik 2010 - Montana 2-3 (16-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 9-15) stats
    CSKA - Dobrudzha 07 1-3 (25-23, 18-25, 19-25, 21-25)


    Montana - Dobrudzha 07 2-3 (25-21, 20-25, 25-16, 22-25, 9-15) stats

    Dobrudzha 07, with the help of Martin Atanasov and Dobromir Dimitrov, won the Cup at home. This is the club's second Cup after the historic first one in 2015. Dobrudzha 07 has also appeared in the last 4 finals, losing the 2016 and 2014 matches to Neftochimik 2010 and Levski Ball respectively.

    After beating Neftochimik in the semifinal almost by himself (19 points, 5 aces, 70% in attack), Todor Skrimov didn't enjoy a good final and thus Montana gained yet another silver medal. A club that has progressed significantly in recent years, but can't make the last step.

    Neftochimik and CSKA, pre-tournament favourites despite CSKA's lack of Cup recruitment, failed in the semifinals.

    The final on 30 April marked the end of the domestic season.