Bulgaria overcame 3-1 Argentina  and added another three points to standings, however, the brightest ‘stars’ of the game did not become any player but Mr. Helio Ormondo (in the middle at the above picture) of Portugal and Mr. Akihiko Tano of Japan. These gentlemen named ‘’referees’’ deprived at least one great point of Argentina committing disastrous mistakes in the decisive phase of the fourth set. The other Sunday’s duel fell prey to France, which beat Poland in tie-break even as the day before.


Bulgaria – Argentina 3 – 1 (17-25, 25- 19, 25-21, 31-29)

Bulgaria: G. Bratoev 5, Aleksiev 21, Gotsev 5, Sokolov 23, Skrimov 4, Yosifov 11, Salparov (L) and V. Bratoev, Dimitrov, Uchikov
Argentina: De Cecco 4, Pereyra 10, Sole 10, Romanutti 17, Bengolea 8, Crer 10, Gonzalez (L) and Castellani 3, Quiroga 1, Ramos, Uriarte, Poglajen

Stunned by surprising play of the guests, led by Bruno Romanutti and Federico Pereyra, Bulgaria lost the first set. Argentina played completely differently than the first match, and the only time Gauchos gave a scare to their rival was at 12-13 and 14-15. After that, Javier Weber and his boys enjoyed the taste of victory.

Camillo Placi managed to motivate his men, and in the beginning of the second set, they stopped the Argentinian storm. Engaging in a point-by-point rally until the 7th point, both team gave an extra special volleyball performance to the crowd. Tsvetan Sokolov was not at his best, but captain Aleksiev made it happen. He was spiking and blocking well to close the set at 25-19.

Feeling the hesitation of the Gauchos, the hosts changed their tactics and rose the block. This gave them the an advantage from the very beginning of the third set. Gotsev and Yosifov made some kills and gave Bulgaria the 11-5 lead. Both middle blockers scored 5 blocks and total of 10 points to neutralize Bruno Romanotti and Sebastian Sole’s attempts to keep the play equal.

Both teams played a very high level of volleyball in the fourth set. Argentina somehow came back from the shock and denied the Bulgarian idea of fast final set of the game. Javier Weber made some changes in the roster by bringing Castellani, Uriarte and Ramos onto the court, but at the end Romanutti, Sole and Crer were the motors that kept his team in the fight for that set. Neither of the teams managed to stretch the lead to more than one point, and it remained close until the very end. Tsvetan Sokolov took the leadership responsibility for Bulgaria and scored 12 points, which was one more than he scored in the first 3 sets combined. The power of his spikes was very important, but not key in the last minutes when Argentina was struggling to push the game to a tie-break. The most vital turned out to be an attitude of two men dressed in a judge uniforms with international referee level marking on their t-shirts. At first, Mr. Helio Ormondo of Portugal did not finish off the set with the score 23-24 for Argentina when Bruno Romanutti took advantage a set-ball by attack with the Teodor Skrimov’s block. The first referee, Ormondo, did not see what everyone else saw and ordered to keep on playing. A few minutes later (28-29), Mr. Akihiko Tano of Japan did not noticed that Tsvetan Sololov almost pulled out the antenna spiking, but he detected an alleged fault made by Federico Pereyra. After all these incidents, Argentina unable to revive and lost 31-19.


France – Poland 3 – 2 (25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-13)

France: Toniutti, Lynnel 17, Hardy-Dessources 7, Moreau 13, Ngapeth 26, Le Roux 3, Grebennikov (L) and Redwitz 2, Sidibe 9, Le Goff 4
Poland: Zygadlo 5, Winiarski 10, Nowakowski 10, Bartman 23, Kurek 7, Mozdzonek 8, Ignaczak (L) and Jarosz, Ruciak, Kubiak 9, Wrona 3

Two matches, 10 sets, two different cities, but the same result. France earned its second victory in a row, defeating Poland after a long and uncertain match Sunday night in Toulouse.

Winner in five sets Friday night in Rouen, France needed 2 hours and 28 minutes to beat Poland in a solid and clean tie-break. On Friday night, France had to overcome a delicate situation in the fourth set to stay alive, and eventually win. In Toulouse, on Sunday night, France led almost the entire match to beat an inconsistent Polish team 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-13).

The result was the same: two victories in five sets. But Benjamin Toniutti, France’s captain and first setter, said after the game, “winning tonight was even harder than for the first game. We had to draw from our resources. Poland won the World League last season,  so the team has extra pressure. They looked nervous tonight.”

As a matter of fact, Poland was nervous. They tried to play the way they like, using a solid serve, offense and block to knock France down. But the Polish had to fight a French team that was patient and well organized on defense. Laurent Tillie, France’s head coach, said while looking at the stat sheet, “we were able to win tonight with only six blocks. Poland had 16.”

With no victories after their four first matches, against Bulgaria and Team USA, the French looked close to giving up. “But now our confidence is at a top level,” said Earvin Ngapeth after the tie-break. Like his team, the young wing-spiker had a bad start in this World League. But he used the two matches against Poland to recover and to get back to playing his style of volleyball. Ngapeth was the best scorer twice, including 26 points on Saturday.

On the Polish side, Zbigniew Bartman finished the game as best scorer with  23 points (for 61 attacks).

France will need some rest before traveling to Brazil. They will play two games in two days, on June 28 and 29. “We are still learning,” said Laurent Tillie. But they hope to learn fast.


Pool A Standings:

Rank      Team Played games        Matches won/lost Points
1.     Brazil             4                 4/0     11
2.    Bulgaria             4                 4/0     11
3.      USA             4                 3/1      8
4.     France             6                 2/4      6
5.  Argentina             6                 1/5      3
6.    Poland             4                 0/4      3