Plovdiv, Bulgaria, February 20, 2017. The defending champions in the Bulgarian women’s National Volleyball League (NVL), Maritza PLOVDIV, have already secured their pole position for the playoffs. Still undefeated in their eleven matches since the beginning of the championship, the Yellow-and-Blues from Europe’s oldest living city cemented themselves on top of the regular season standings with three legs still to go. Since, according to the league regulations, the playoffs determine only the new champion, this way Maritza have already made sure of at least a silver medal at the end of the competition.
Of course, the silver medal is not something the club is aiming at. The team around head coach Ivan Petkov won the national title in 2015 and in 2016 and anything less than a third consecutive championship gold would be considered a step down, especially since Maritza have established themselves as the sole dominant force on the domestic stage.
With 11 victories in 11 matches and a 33-1 set ratio so far, the squad from Plovdiv has broken far away from any competitors. In their last game, Maritza mastered a 3-0 (25-14, 25-6, 25-14) home win against the second-placed Rakovski DIMITROVGRAD, a team that consists mainly of players on loan from Maritza and is considered the season’s top contender for the silver medal.
“We may be friends off the court, but when we play against each other, it does not matter,” said Maritza’s outside hitter Simona Dimitrova, who became the top scorer of the match, in a video interview for the club’s official YouTube channel. “We are already preparing for the playoffs and I think we will not have any problems. I am ready for the title!”
Earlier this season Maritza PLOVDIV became Bulgaria’s first team to participate in the CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women. After two wins against KV Drita GJILAN and two losses to the reigning club world champions of Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL, Maritza moved to the CEV Volleyball Cup and until a few days ago held the season’s tournament record in both genders with the almost 3,000 spectators that flocked to the Kolodruma hall to watch the home heroines battle towards a 3-2 victory over Italy’s Unet Yamamay BUSTO ARSIZIO.
These developments seem to have resulted in a substantial increase of the number of spectators who attend Maritza’s home games in the NVL as a well. Despite the fact that on that same night the city’s three men’s volleyball teams held matches in Plovdiv and the local men’s basketball team was playing in a national cup semifinal at the Kolodruma, the stands at the Plovdiv University hall were crowded by over 700 fans, who created a very positive ambiance.
Maritza PLOVDIV’s next game is on Thursday, February 23, when the champs entertain another medal contender, KAZANLAK Volley in a nationally televised NVL match.