Nikolay Penchev surely isn't among the best OHs one can buy for his team but his role and value seem underestimated a bit. kondzio's definition that he isn't a scoring machine is actually more accurate. Let me explain why, it has nothing to do with his nationality. The fact that I am Bulgarian, too, means that I have just watched him more.
Penchev developed as a reliable receiver when he was still a youngster. I guess he was a tall kid even in his first years as a volleyball player but his skill to receive isn't the most frequently found one among youth and junior players. Especially in Bulgaria where receiving OHs are relatively rare. Remember that he won the Best Receiver award at the Junior ECH in Belarus in 2010. Sure, if you have that characteristic and you are tall, you are kind of predestined to find teams anywhere. His big problem, obviously, is his physique. Even now he still looks immature, although there is improvement in comparison to his first season in Poland. His physique and the fact that he struggles to "grow up" remind me of Poletaev, Dmitry Volkov, and Douglas Souza from SESI - the first few examples that come to my mind. However, Penchev isn't helpless in attack at all (neither is any of the other guys I mentioned). He certainly isn't capable of drilling holes in the field but I wouldn't consider him a weak attacker. He has learned to play with the block more and he doesn't make many mistakes. Besides, he serves very well, his floats are a nice alternative when his jump serves don't always work (his floats decided the quarterfinal match of Bulgaria versus Germany at the 2013 ECH, they were also decisive in the re-match at the 2015 ECH quarterfinal) and he has improved his blocking. These are not qualities of an average player.
Let's quickly jump to the comparisons with Ngapeth (here, in this thread) and with Ivovic in Resovia (in the transfers thread). Their styles and roles in the respective teams are different, to start with. Alongside Ivovic, who attacks greatly, who is loaded more with responsibility in the front line, and who has enjoyed a splendid 2016, Penchev is (was) usually the one to help with the reception more. So, to say that you are impressed more with Ivovic than Penchev is a personal choice but it surely neglects the role of the latter in the team. As we know, attackers always get the attention Ngapeth is a beast and can be compared to only a few players nowadays. The fact that makes him great is not only his improvisation but the variety of qualities, including great reception. He is the reliable receiver for Modena, not Petric, most French OHs are good receivers, as a matter of fact, and when he attacks like he does, he is undoubtedly world-class. But not my type of player because of his attitude. As you see, a matter of preferences. By the way, Penchev outplayed Ngapeth at the 2015 ECH semifinal, a great tournament for Penchev in a bad moment of his life, but I would never say that Nikolay is better than the Frenchman.
Last, the whole team of Skra is somewhat unfocused lately and I can't really say why, people who watch the Polish league regularly should know more. I see OHs being always in rotation, something I remember that happened with Resovia at a certain time under Kowal's guidance last year. The good old Winiarski could've made up for Conte's absence, the latter is spectacular but not irreplaceable. Penchev isn't impressive in 2016, absolutely agree, he wasn't impressive with the NT during the summer either and rumours say, some of them might even be trusted, he is (still) in love and volleyball might not be the primary focus for him at the moment
I understand your point but there's a reason I would be much more critical on Penchev than I would on Szalpuk as the club relies more on their foreigners in bigger stages such as this at this point. He is also not getting any younger so he needs to show more of his worth or he's going to be replaced and we all know the foreign players are always the first to go when teams underperformed.
As much as I value reception, you can't always have it perfect and especially against a team of great servers like Modena, the setters are gonna rely more and more on your outside hitters than they normally do and considering Kurek's condition and the team moving away from Marius, it's important for the OHs to be capable on handling great/triple blocks when they are needed.
I guess Penchev could work on other teams but since skra is an incoherent mess of a team structure, I couldn't see it much. The level that he's showing is below or maybe on par a Polish player and managers don't want that unless he's cheap.
Yeah Ngapeth is the better receiver on the team than Petric but I'm not going to praise him more than he deserves. He still make mistakes.There's a serious lack of skilled players at that height that Petric has and as it always stands, the rule that the smaller guys has to work harder to compete. The reason why some may call someone world class is obviously subjective and be rigged with bias but it doesn't mean there is no basis behind it. The reason we may call Aaron or Wilfredo on a league of their own even though they are just average at some things, they are exceptional at others and then there was Murilo and now Ngapeth, maybe Taylor without the injury who are good all around players which makes them a cut from the rest.
Anyway, this level of play from Skra is worrisome for Plusliga. Top 2 in the standings and ranked bottom in their group. NAGL.