Maritza gears up for Champions League debut with strong additions [gallery]

Maritza Plovdiv announced the first new additions to the club’s roster for the 2016-2017 volleyball season, which is going to be highlighted by the team’s debut in the CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women.  Bulgarian international Gabriela Tsvetanova and Serbian setter Kristina Cesljar will be part of coach Ivan Petkov’s selection that is expected to write a new successful chapter in Maritza’s history.

25-year-old opposite Gabriela Tsvetanova actually signed with the club from Plovdiv two years ago, but without having played in any official matches was lent out to Greece’s Pannaxiakos Naxos. Defending that club’s colors, she earned the season’s MVP award in the Greek League, before moving to Olympiacos Piraeus, with which she triumphed with the 2016 championship title and national cup of Greece.

Tsvetanova was instrumental in Bulgaria’s historic success at the 2009 FIVB Women's Junior World Championship when the young Lionesses finished in fourth place.  Since the following year she has been a member of the senior women’s national team.

“Every time I visit Plovdiv it feels like home,” Gabi told volleymaritza.bg. “I am coming with an open heart and happy to finally make my debut for Maritza after signing with the club two years ago. I had many other offers for next season, but chose to be part of the wonderful path that Maritza is following. For me, this is a serious step forward because I know well how things get done in this organization. I know that we will have the necessary conditions to be able to set high targets. I have a positive feel about our upcoming participation in the Champions League.  With the squad that is being selected and with a little bit of luck, we could go far.”

30-year-old setter Kristina Cesljar and Gabi Tsvetanova have already been teammates before – when they both played at Pannaxiakos.  Before that she played for Serbia’s Spartak Subotica and Jedinstvo Uzice. In the 2015-2016 season Cesljar won the bronze medals in the Hungarian championship with the team of UTE Budapest.

“So far I am feeling fine in Plovdiv. The city is very beautiful.  Everyone on Maritza’s staff has been very professional,” said Kristina upon signing the one-year contract with Maritza president Iliya Dinkov. “I am impatient to meet the rest of the girls on the team. I hope for a successful season. We must win the Bulgarian title and cup. When we find out the results of the draw for the Champions League within a few days, we can discuss our chances and how far we could get, but as far as the CEV Volleyball Cup, I think we have pretty good chances for success.”

For a photo gallery from Tsvetanova and Cesljar’s arrival, visit Maritza’s official Facebook page here.

Photos: volleymaritza.bg