After an early Bulgarian lead in the third set, Canada took control after 7-7. Outblocking the southern Europeans and with Arthur Szwarc putting away a couple of aces, the North Americans cruised comfortably towards winning the set. They opened a lead as wide as five points, but the opponents fought on to get back to within two at 24-22. However, a strong Bulgarian serve went out of bounds to end the set at 25-22 Canada’s way. In the fourth set, Danny Demyanenko aced twice in a row for Canada to set off a momentum, which the Bulgarians could not completely turn around despite Aleksandar Nikolov also hammering a couple of points directly from the serving line. The Europeans came back to within one at 21-20, but after the side-out, Stephen Maar hammered an ace and followed up with a pipe shot to bring in match point, which Szwarc converted to a 25-20 close, again with a back-row kill.
“I think we were lacking a little bit of personality for some of the past matches and that was the one thing that we really wanted to change tonight. I think we did a good job with that – everybody who played and all the guys on the bench. So that was nice to see from our point,” Maar said after the game.
On Friday, Bulgaria will take on Argentina at 16:30 local time (14:30 UTC). Canada’s next match is on Saturday at 21:00 (19:00) against hosts France.