Mayor of Plovdiv wishes Maritza another major breakthrough

Just a day before the return match between Maritza Plovdiv and Dauphines Charleroi in the 2016 CEV Volleyball Cup - Women, the Mayor of Plovdiv Ivan Totev invited the entire home squad along with the coaching staff and club president Iliya Dinkov to the City Hall for another friendly meeting.  He wished the team of Maritza the best of luck in Wednesday’s game and they all posed together for photos with the three trophies from the Yellows’ domestic treble in 2015.

Maritza shut out its Belgian opponent by 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-22) in Charleroi in the first leg a couple of weeks ago.  A few days later, the team from Plovdiv raised Bulgaria’s inaugural Super Cup to complete a historic treble and then started the new season in the National Volleyball League with a straight-set win against Burgas 2007.  The team seems to be in good shape and everybody in Plovdiv believes it is time for another major breakthrough.  It has been many years since a Bulgarian women’s team was last able to advance in a European Cup tournament and now Maritza is only two sets away from achieving this.

“Thank you for bringing these three trophies to our city,” said Mayor Totev, addressing the team. “My deputies and I will be on the stands tomorrow.  I am so confident in the successful outcome that I am already thinking of the next round.  This will surely be a day of celebration for the city of Plovdiv.”

VC Maritza President Dinkov also anticipates qualification to the next round.  “I expect a win tomorrow,” he said.  “Maybe not necessarily a win, but a result that would eliminate our opponents from Charleroi and put us in the eighthfinals, where we will face another very strong rival.  I am eager with anticipation for that clash and I hope our team will come out of it with dignity.”

Later in the afternoon, the team of Dauphines arrived in Plovdiv with a large delegation consisting of coaching staff, local politicians, representatives of the media, friends of the club, fans and elegantly dressed athletes.  However, only eleven players travelled to Bulgaria, since the squad’s main setter Celine Laforge sustained a serious ligament injury and will be replaced by 18-year-old Flore Evrard.  Between the two CEV Cup legs, Dauphines was eliminated in Belgium’s national cup competition after a shocking loss to Kivola Riemst, and suffered its first loss of the new season in the Belgian league – 0-3 at VDK Gent Dames.

So the Spanish head coach Pascual Saurin is not optimistic. “This is a game we must play, although the team is not in its best condition,” he commented.  “But playing in the European Cups brings us good experience.  We have nothing to lose.  We will try to play a good game against a good opponent and this will be some great training for the domestic games ahead of us.  We will play for the victory, but it will be extremely difficult to achieve the result we need to move forward in the competition.”

However, his Bulgarian counterpart Ivan Petkov prefers to remain cautious.  “I hear some sentiments that this will be an easy match for us.  What is important is that these sentiments are from outside, not from within our squad.  In the first leg it became evident that Dauphines is a serious side.  We have to keep our concentration and, most of all, the ambition to strive for the victory. I hope luck is on our side as well and we progress to the next round.”

The match between Maritza and Dauphines will take place at the Plovdiv University sports hall on Wednesday, November 11, starting at 18:00 EET.  Admission to the venue is free.