Slovenia booked their place in the semi-finals of the Men’s European Volleyball Championships with a 3-2 victory against world champions Poland ©CEV

Slovenia’s fairy tale run at the 2015 Men’s European Volleyball Championships continued today as they upset reigning world champions Poland in Sofia to reach the semi-finals.

This year’s European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) Volleyball European League winners were far too strong for Poland in the first two sets and although their opponents hit back to force a tie-break, Slovenia ultimately triumphed 25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 19-25, 16-14.

Despite setting the pace almost from start to finish in the deciding set, Slovenia had to survive a match point before celebrating one of the greatest achievements in the country’s sporting history.

"The guys were fantastic today," said Slovenia’s head coach Andrea Giani of Italy.

"From the beginning of the match you could see in their eyes the desire to win - to defeat Poland and to qualify for the semi-finals. 

"I am very happy with their performance.

"We lost the third and the fourth sets, but still we played well during the whole match.

"For sure this is my biggest result as a coach - the semi-final of a European Championship."

France beat Serbia in four sets to progress to the penultimate stage of the competition
France beat Serbia in four sets to progress to the penultimate stage of the competition ©CEV

Later in the evening, co-hosts Bulgaria recorded a resounding straight-sets win against Germany, giving the Baku 2015 European Games gold medallists barely a glimmer of hope in a 25-19, 25-23, 25-23 success.  

Victory sets up a much-anticipated semi-final encounter with four-time silver medallists France, who continued their perfect run in the competition with a 25-22, 25-23, 14-25, 25-20 win against 2013 bronze medallists Serbia in Busto Arsizio, Italy. 

Meanwhile, playing in front of a home crowd, Italy beat Russia 25-20, 25-19, 25-19 to gain revenge for the defeat they suffered at the hands of their opponents in the 2013 final.

They now move onto the last-four, in which they will meet Slovenia and mentor Giani, who up until last year’s World Championship in Poland, was a member of the Italian national team’s coaching staff.

The semi-finals are scheduled to take place on Saturday (October 17) with Slovenia and Italy up first, followed by Bulgaria and France.

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