Boys' U19 World Championship 2023 - News.

Bulgarian playmaker Simeon Nikolov in action

Bulgarian playmaker Simeon Nikolov in action

The 18th edition of the FIVB Volleyball Boys’ U19 World Championship got underway in San Juan on Wednesday with the first eight matches of the pool stage of the competition. In the most interesting of them, and the only one to go to five, FIVB U19 World Ranking leaders Bulgaria celebrated victory over fellow Europeans from Slovenia in Pool B, with three of the sets decided by the narrowest of margins.

The Bulgarians completely outserved (15 aces against three) and outblocked (13 stuffs against six) the opponents, and also did better in attack (56 kills against 49), but committed way more unforced errors (43 to 30) to invite the Slovenians to a five-set battle, before emerging with a win in this rollercoaster match.

Bulgaria dominated the first set to win it convincingly, but Slovenia struck back, squeezing out two-point wins in the next two. The southerners were the first reach set point in the third at 24-22, but the boys from Central Europe scored four points in a row to take the lead in the match. In the fourth, Slovenia had a 24-22 advantage before the Bulgarians denied three opponent match points to take the set even deeper into overtime on an ace by Kristiyan Andreev. The tie-breaker was quite one-sided and coach Miroslav Zhivkov’s squad cruised to victory with Aleksandar Kandev’s block-out shot producing the match winner.

Kandev was the best scorer of the game with 23 points. His tally included as many as six aces and four kill blocks. Kristian Titriyski added another 21 points for Bulgaria, while setter and captain Simeon Nikolov impressed with five aces, four kill blocks and seven points in attack to collect an amazing tally of 16 points, one more than Slovenia’s most productive players Luka Marovt and Miha Okorn, who finished with 15 points apiece.

In the other Pool B match of the first day, France mastered an emphatic shutout of India, with Adrien Roure acing six times to top the scorers’ chart of the match on a total of 10 points.

Egypt (EGY) vs. Serbia (SRB) - Pool A #6211677

Egypt’s Shrief Helawy rejoices

In Pool A, Egypt persevered through two deeply extended sets to celebrate a win over Serbia, with Shrief Helawy leading the way on 22 points, while hosts Argentina hammered out a sweep of their opening match against Costa Rica on a 15-point match high from Inaki Ramos.

In Pool C, Iran defeated Korea in straight sets, . Mohammadreza Alejalil topped the scorers’ charts with 16 points, including four of Iran’s 17 kill blocks in the match. A 3-0 (25-0, 25-0, 25-0) forfeit win was awarded to Puerto Rico in the fixture against Nigeria.

Brazil (BRA) vs. Mexico (MEX) - Pool D #6209642

The Brazilians trying to stop another attack by Mexico’s Ines Lares

Two straight-setters marked the first day in Pool D. Brazil delivered a win over Mexico despite a 21-point match high from Mexican outside hitter Ines Lares, while Alessandro Bristot scored 16 times to lead Italy to a shutout of Chile.

Pool action continues on Thursday, with the remaining four participants – United States in Pool A, Japan in Pool B, Colombia in Pool C and Belgium in Pool D – also joining the race for world honours.