As expected, Pool II is a lot more interesting. This Russian team has been struggling in Sofia, whereas Portugal are the pleasant surprise of the tournament so far, causing Italy's only defeat. Italy have Russia and Greece on the horizon, so theoretically they have every chance of making it to the semis. I don't know if Portugal are capable of grabbing more points, but it would be difficult for them to finish among the top 2. The match on the last day between the Czech Rep. and Poland may secure the last semifinalist.
In Pool I, only Turkey seemed able to challenge France and the host Bulgaria. Turkey came back from a 2-set deficit but eventually lost in the tie-break against Bulgaria, tomorrow is their last chance to reach the medals when they play France.
Otherwise, some notable parents attended Hristo Botev sports hall (Pool I). Vlado Nikolov and Hubert Henno met at the stands as their sons, Alexander (OH) and Hilir (OH) represent Bulgaria and France, respectively. Erik Stoev is the son of Bulgaria's head coach Martin Stoev. In the Romanian team, Cristian-Daniel Chitigoi comes from a volleyball family, too, with his father Cristian Chitigoi being a former Romanian NT member (his mother is a former Bulgarian volleyball player). There are one Kedzierski and one Sliwka in the Polish team, but I don't know if they are related to the more known Polish players with these surnames.
There are one Kedzierski and one Sliwka in the Polish team, but I don't know if they are related to the more known Polish players with these surnames.
Piotr Śliwka is younger brother of Aleksander, don't know how it is with 2nd duo.
Maksym Kedzierski is younger brother of Michal.
Semifinals are set for tomorrow. Bulgaria didn't show motivation against France and will now have to face Poland, whereas France will battle the Czech Republic. I have only watched very brief parts of some matches in Pool I, so I can't say anything about the level overall or about particular teams and players, but my bet for the gold medal match would be Poland vs. France, the two group winners.
France are the deserved winners in Sofia! Bulgaria beat Poland in the semifinals and grabbed the only set France lost during the tournament (in the final) but the French team were simply superior. Poland with the bronze after a straight-set victory against the Czech Republic.
Best libero: Enzo Blanc (FRA)
Best middle blocker: Szymon Gorowski (POL)
Second best middle blocker: Tomas Bukacek (CZE)
Best Outside Hitter: Vladimir Garkov (BUL)
Second Best Outside Hitter: Hilir Henno (FRA)
Best Opposite: Georgi Tatarov (BUL)
Best Setter: Anatole Chaboissant (FRA)
Most Valuable Player: Nathan Canovas (FRA)
Friends of mine attended the matches on the last 2 days. Thanks to Bulgaria reaching the later stages and then also the big final, the sports hall was full and the atmosphere was said to be great for that level. Unfortunately, they also told me that one of the teams made a very bad impression during the final when they provoked the audience. I hope these kids will grow to be better people and players.
On the link below you can watch highlights of the gold medal match on Dailymotion.