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Slovenia in quarter-finals of European Volleyball Championship

Ljubljana, 22 September - The Slovenian men's national volleyball team made it to the quarter-finals of the European Championship after defeating Bulgaria 3:1 in Ljubljana last evening, earning another encounter with the defending champions Russia on Monday.

Ljubljana
A round of 16 match between Slovenia and Bulgaria at the European Volleyball Championship.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Ljubljana
A round of 16 match between Slovenia and Bulgaria at the European Volleyball Championship.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Ljubljana
A round of 16 match between Slovenia (blue) and Bulgaria (green) at the European Volleyball Championship.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Ljubljana
A round of 16 match between Slovenia (blue) and Bulgaria (green) at the European Volleyball Championship.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Ljubljana
A round of 16 match between Slovenia and Bulgaria at the European Volleyball Championship.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Ljubljana
A round of 16 match between Slovenia and Bulgaria at the European Volleyball Championship.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Ljubljana
A round of 16 match between Slovenia (blue) and Bulgaria (green) at the European Volleyball Championship.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Ljubljana
A round of 16 match between Slovenia (blue) and Bulgaria (green) at the European Volleyball Championship.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Ljubljana
A round of 16 match between Slovenia (blue) and Bulgaria (green) at the European Volleyball Championship.
Photo: Jure Makovec/STA

Not everything went as planned as Slovenia started the elimination round of 16 at home in front of more than 8,000 fans in Stožice Arena, as the Bulgarians, the third-placed team from Group A, won the first set in a come-from-behind fashion.

But Slovenia, the second-placed team from Group C, turned the things around after that, never allowing Bulgaria to come closer than 17 points in either of the next three sets, cruising to the victory to the delight of the home crowd.

The home team advanced to the quarter finals, and will also play its match in Stožice Arena, against Russia, who demolished Greece in the first round of 16 encounter in Ljubljana earlier on Saturday.

Slovenia played the defending European champions in the group stage, losing 0:3 as they earned 21 points in each of the three sets.

Slovenia's head coach Alberto Giuliani said that the "lost first set was a great danger, but the reaction was phenomenal, unbelievable. Now we have another chance to play Russia. We hope we had learned something in the first match."

Captain Tine Urnaut said that it was a great thing that the team had come back after losing the first set. "We proved that we know how to fight from the first to last point. We knew that we can beat the Bulgarians for the first time and we did it."

As for Russia, Urnaut said that the win gave Slovenia a fresh impetus, while admitting that the performance against Bulgaria would not be enough for Russia, adding that the team would need to play even better.

The winner of tomorrow's Slovenia-Russia quarter-finals match will play the winner of the Poland-Germany match in one of the semi-finals, which will be played in Ljubljana on 26 September.

zm/eho
© STA, 2019