Men's U21 World Championship 2021 News

Belgium 1

The young Red Dragons of Belgium prevailed over the young Lions of Bulgaria in the final for the fifth place, grabbing a 3-1 victory. Even though they lost the first set, Belgium found their game and emerged victorious. In the battle for the seventh place earlier on Sunday, Brazil left no doubts over who was the better team, winning over Czechia in three sets. Only in the second one did the Czech Republic put some fight, but it did not cause any surprises.

Bulgaria had an outstanding start in the match, with outside hitter Aleksandar Nikolov (six points) delivering a good performance. The young Lions showed also a good level of reception (60% positivity), while Belgium let too many errors affect their game. The Belgians reacted quickly, and with a better performance on the serve, made it difficult for Bulgaria’s reception. Led by middle blockers Lennert Van Elsen and Wout D’Heer, the young Red Dragons were able to tie the score. Van Elsen and D’Heer contributed again in the deciding moments in the third set. Even two outstanding blocks by Samuil Valchinov were not enough for Bulgaria to stop the Belgians. Flying Belgium took an early 8-2 lead in the third set, but Bulgaria reacted quickly, with Nikolov and Valchinov on fire. However, after a point-for-point race, Belgium managed to seize the victory.

Statistically, Bulgaria were slightly better on all counts (53 to 51 attacks; 12 to 11 successful blocks; four to three aces). However, more own mistakes cost the Bulgarians the win.

“We played as a team. That’s why we are fifth in the world. We started very well against Iran. We lost our two important games in the second pool, but then came back to win against Brazil and Bulgaria. Personally, I am proud of how we did in blocking,” Lennert Van Elsen, middle blocker of Belgium, told Volleyball World.

Brazil started off on the right foot in the match, taking an early 12-4 lead. The South Americans maintained the high level throughout the set, led by their middle blockers and Darlan Souza (five points and one ace). The Czech Republic suffered in reception, delivering only a 29% efficiency in this component. Czechia were close to tie the set score afterwards, starting better in the second set, leading by 10-6, but Brazil showed fighting spirit, with two blocks in a row. Darlan was delivering his best game again, also amazing the crowd with an outstanding foot save of an important ball. Leonardo finished the set in style with a block and two points in the end. With great blocks and serves, Brazil did not allow any surprises in the remaining set. With an ace, Guilherme Rech helped his team seize the victory.

Statistically, Brazil outperformed their opponents on all counts, delivering as many as 39 winning spikes, 12 blocks and four aces. The South Americans were also able to score more on their opponents’ errors (20). Brazil’s opposite Darlan proved his class once again, recording 15 points.

“We are happy about the match, but we were expecting more of the tournament. We would have loved to play in the final against Italy, but we couldn’t achieve it. Now, we are going back home to keep on working,” said Brazilian middle blocker Guilherme Rech.