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14/10/2015 23:08
‘Les Bleus’ claim remake of World League final, move on to EuroVolley semis – Italy rout Russia to play ‘special derby’ with Slovenia and their mentor Giani
2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men

Busto Arsizio, Italy, October 14, 2015. France continued their perfect run in the 2015 edition of the men’s EuroVolley claiming also the remake of this year’s World League ‘grand finale’ with Serbia, this time recording a 3:1 win (25-22, 25-23, 14-25, 25-20) in their third match up of the season against the 2013 EuroVolley bronze medal winners. France will now board the flight to Sofia, Bulgaria to contest the final weekend of Europe’s premier competition, vying for their first medal since they won silver in 2009 in Izmir, Turkey. France have never won gold at the EuroVolley and have four silver medals (1948, 1987, 2003 and 2009) and two bronze (1951 and 1985) on their resume. Italy completed the programme of the 2015 men’s EuroVolley at Palayamamay in Busto Arsizio with a spectacular 3:0 victory over Russia (25-20, 25-19, 25-19) to move on to the semis and play there the real sensation of the tournament, 2015 CEV Volleyball European League gold medallists Slovenia, and their mentor Andrea Giani who – up to last year’s World Championship in Poland – was a member of the Italian national team’s coaching staff.   

France vs. Serbia 3:1 (25-22, 25-23, 14-25, 25-20)

Waiting for the other ‘big match’ starring Italy and Russia, about 2,000 fans witnessed the remake of the gold medal match from this year’s FIVB World League.

After a close start (3:3), France edged ahead at 7:6 with the help of their middle blocker Kevin Le Roux but Serbia fought back and with two in a row called for the first technical time-out. The teams traded points up to 12 all before Earvin Ngapeth paved France’s way towards a 16:13 lead at the second technical time-out. Aleksandar Atanasijevic put a lot of pressure on France’s receivers with some powerful serves and this way Serbia reduced their gap to one point at 19:20. However, ‘Les Bleus’ responded immediately and Antonin Rouzier finished it all off at 25-22.  

France opened the second set with a 6-3 run before Serbia’s outside spiker Nemanja Petric stamped a couple of superb attacks and added a kill block to his personal tally with France relying on a very narrow margin at the first technical time-out (8:7). Atanasijevic levelled the score at 14 all with a terrific crosscourt but Rouzier scored two in a row to restore France’s supremacy at the second technical time-out (16:14). Serbian coach Nikola Grbic took his guys to the side lines as they trailed 15:19 and even though they delivered a valiant effort to make it 22:23, Rouzier destroyed once again their hopes, securing a 2:0 lead for ‘Les Bleus’ in the match (25-23).

Serbia resumed play in the third set looking very determined not to end their EuroVolley campaign at this stage. They fought with a lot of courage and claimed a massive 8:2 lead at the first technical time-out. Nikola Jovovic orchestrated masterfully his team’s play and he found in Atanasijevic and Petric the perfect complements to finish the actions off (18:9). France could not find their way back into the game and Serbia ended the set with a landslide 25-14 win.

France restored their supremacy in the fourth stanza (10:5) as Serbia’s receivers seemed not able to stand the pressure their opponents were putting on them. Atanasijevic and middle blocker Srecko Lisinac attempted a comeback (10:12) but France piled up a four-point lead at the second mandatory break (16:12). Benjamin Toniutti rose to the occasion and with the help of the two Kevins, Tillie and Le Roux, France reached match point at 24:17. Serbia did not want to give in, survived three match balls but in the end ‘Les Bleus’ got the party started following their 3:1 win (25-20).

Antonin Rouzier top scored in the match with 20 points, thereby winning the duel with Aleksandar Atanasijevic who recorded 16 for Serbia.

Serbian team captain Dragan Stankovic commented: “I expected a reaction from yesterday’s match because I could not believe that my team could play two bad matches in a row. The problem was that when we wanted to get back into the match we were not able to do so. We had a reaction in the third set but it wasn’t enough. I hope we will forget this loss and play better in the Olympic qualification tournament coming up in January.”

France’s team captain and setter Benjamin Toniutti: “We played a French-style volleyball which brought us to the win. We played well in the first two sets and in the third we lost concentration and were not as determined as before. We started the fourth really strong and motivated to bring home the result. Now we have two days to get ready for the semi-finals.”

Serbia’s mentor Nikola Grbic said: “It’s normal that when you lose you try to find an excuse or a reason for the result by searching for technical errors that changed the final score. Anyway I think that tonight France played a great match and they deserved to win. They played better than us and now we have to admit that they are superior to us.”

French coach Laurent Tillie: “We performed well and our strength was that we stayed focussed in the first two sets. We won because our reception was good and our setter Toniutti played very well, being able to assist our best opposite and scorer Antonin Rouzier in an impeccable way. Now we need to focus on the semi-finals.”

Russia vs. Italy 0:3 (20-25, 19-25, 19-25)

Russia and Italy played a re-match of the 2013 final to complete the programme of the 2015 men’s EuroVolley in Busto Arsizio with 4,500 fans in attendance at Palayamamay.

The Azzurri stormed out to an 8:5 lead in the opening set, playing extremely well in all fundamentals. Massimo Colaci was absolutely outstanding as the Italian libero seemed to be literally flying across the court catching every ball and a block by young setter Simone Giannelli widened Italy’s lead up to four points at 11:7. Russia struggled to keep the pace of the home side and with the help of Simone Buti and Osmany Juantorena Italy made it 16:10 at the second technical time-out. Russia’s mentor Vladimir Alekno decided to replace starting setter Dmitry Kovalev with Sergey Grankin and this somehow propelled a late comeback by the reigning Olympic champions (16:23) before Italy closed it out at 25-20.

Ivan Zaytsev rocked the Palayamamay with his spectacular attacks and recorded two consecutive aces which contributed to a four-point lead for Italy (10:6) forcing coach Alekno to stop the game. The break did not provide the desired effect, Russia was too weak in attack and defence allowing Italy to keep recording one point after the other, reaching the second mandatory break with a fairly comfortable edge (16:12). Russia, however, fought back and shortened the distance with spiker Egor Kliuka and middle blocker Artem Volvich (18:23), but Italy did not tremble and outside spiker Filippo Lanza finished the set at 25-19.

Russia had to chase Italy also at the beginning of the third set (7:10), and again too many errors affected their performance whereas Italy continued to lead the way with the brilliant performance of outside spiker Filippo Lanza (12:8). Russia’s captain and best scorer in the tournament Dmitriy Murserskiy was not at his best and without his contribution the team could not keep the pace of their opponent. The Azzurri, on the other hand, played at their very best and Ivan Zaytsev continued to perform well to make it 20:14. Towards the end of the set Russia attempted some kind of a comeback (18:23) but the ‘Tsar’ - as Zaytsev is nicknamed - once again closed the set and the match (25-19) to get the party started.  

Italy’s best scorer was Ivan Zaytsev with 14 points, while Egor Kliuka paced Russia with 13 in their losing effort.

Italy’s coach Gian Lorenzo Blengini commented: “We won a very important match and we wanted this very much, especially because we were playing in front of our fans. I am very satisfied with this win. Now my players need to rest and focus on the upcoming semi-final. We need to prepare for that as thoroughly as we can.”

Italian setter Simone Giannelli: “What an amazing victory! We played really well! I must admit that Russia was not in perfect shape but we, as I already said, were great. I wish to thank our fans who supported us with so much passion. Tonight we will celebrate this fantastic victory, but tomorrow we will start thinking about Slovenia. It will be a difficult match but we believe in our chances.” 

For more information on the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men visit or click here. In social media, please use the competition’s official hashtag #EuroVolleyM.

News nr. 8 of 179
16/10/2015 21:22:00
Bulgaria’s home hero Vlado Nikolov continues dreaming…
14/10/2015 22:40:00
Slovenia write history, upset world champs Poland to make EuroVolley semis, Bulgaria stamp second victory over Germany to keep dream alive

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