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22/08/2019 10:00
Christina Bauer leads young French team at #EuroVolleyW
CEV EuroVolley 2019 Women

Ankara, Turkey, August 22, 2019. At 31, Christina Bauer is the most experienced player of the French national team, aka Les Bleues, which will open the programme of CEV EuroVolley 2019 Women on Friday early afternoon at the iconic Ankara Sports Hall in a matchup against Bulgaria. Bauer will be making her fifth EuroVolley appearance in Turkey’s capital and she is by far the French player with the most experience on the international stage.

“I started working with the team in July and the preparations went well. We have played many friendlies, including winning the Savaria Cup in Hungary, which is the first tournament I have won with the French team and that was a great feeling. I think we have worked well, now the best is yet to come,” Bauer said on the eve of the EuroVolley opening match.

She feels like the team has been making quite some progress. “Yes, of course, because we played different competitions and the players have played more last season in their clubs, so individually they have progressed technically. Now, some in the group are very young, they are only 17-18 years old and they still have a very large margin for progression. Our head coach Emile Rousseaux is spending a lot of tome on individual technique in training and this allows everyone, including myself as a middle blocker, to work on various aspects of the game, such as defence or just ball control. Collectively, the summer that we spent together allowed us to work well, we feel that we have progressed and we could see it in the matches we won against teams like Hungary or Slovenia. There are many things on the way, now we know that we are tackling much stronger opponents at the European Championship, which will be a good test, we will see in the first match against Bulgaria how things will go,” she continued.

While preparing for EuroVolley, France claimed 10 wins in the 12 matches, which they have contested. “Of course it was a boost of confidence. It is always easier to train when you win games,” Bauer admits. “We know that the teams we faced will not be the ones we are going to play at the European Championship, the level will be higher, even if the formula has changed with 24 teams, which makes the competition a little more open and accessible. In our group, we have very strong teams like Serbia as reigning world champions. It has been a long time since we have played against teams of this level. I remember at the beginning of 2010 that we played against teams of this calibre, in recent years we have not really had this opportunity, these matches will allow us to gauge ourselves at the European level.”

Bauer is happy to play such elite teams, despite the challenges ahead. “Yes, I am happy to play matches against nations like Serbia or Turkey. I have some friends who play in these teams. It is true that we have not had the chance to play against them lately. Unfortunately, events such as qualifications for the Olympic Games that previously were open to everyone are now reserved for the best nations only, same thing for the VNL which is even more closed, so we have not so much the opportunity to rub shoulders at this level.”

The goals are clear. “Since 2013, the French team has not played in the European Championship, so for many girls (11 out of 14), this is a first experience, the goal is above all to show the progress that we have been able to achieve lately. There is not necessarily a clearly defined goal, other than to qualify for the European Championship every time and to play against the best teams as often as possible and continue to progress. Now, all teams want to win as many games as possible and go further in the competition, this is also our case. We have a first match on Friday against Bulgaria, a team that we have not played for a long time. It is difficult to assess what to expect, even if we know they have a very good attacker, Elitsa Vasileva, who has played in the best clubs in Europe. We will see what game we will succeed to produce against a team like that. We throw ourselves into the unknown, but we will be keen to show the best possible side of us.”

If she were to look back on her previous experiences at the European Championship, what would Christina keep? “I have played at the European Championship four times, the first in 2007, when I was the youngest on the team, I was 19 years old and it is always a good memory. Just like 2013 when we reached the quarterfinals, we beat the Czech Republic in a play-off and we had a close match with Belgium where we eventually failed to make it to the semis. The others will be less good memories, because in 2011, I was injured, so I did not play much and in 2009 we lost three games in a row and we went straight home.”

Let’s see how Les Bleues will do at this historic EuroVolley Women…

For further information, visit the official event website

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