BOYER AND FRANCE MAINTAIN WINNING STREAK
Rouen, France, May 27, 2018 – Stephen Boyer stole the light when France claimed their third straight win as they swept past Australia 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 36-34) in Sunday’s week 1 action at the 2018 Nations League in Rouen.
The outside hitter from Chaumont VB was the sta of the match, claiming 18 points, including two blocks.
There also were impressive contributions from Kevin Tillie (11 points) and Earvin Ngapeth (8 points) as the French, who were excellent at the net earning 8 blocks to just 5 from their opponents, cruised past the Volleyroos in front of a partisan crowd.
Lincoln Alexander Williams was once again the most prolific player on the other side of the net, making 10 points for Australia.
France headed into the game hoping to make it three from three as they faced a team they have dominated in four of their last five encounters and haven’t lost to since 2014. Australia lost to both Iran 3-0 and to Japan 3-1 in week 1 and were looking to end on a massive surprise before heading to Bulgaria.
Benjamin Toniutti started the first set with two aces to put Les Bleus on the right path while Earvin Ngapeth spiked twice to give France a strong 5-0 lead. Australia finally got on the board as the French blocked a Jordan Richards spike… But it just wasn’t enough for the Volleyroos who were picked apart by a side showing plenty of agility and guile in attack to increase the lead to 11-2. In cruise control, the French enjoyed a commanding position as Australia, despite Thomas Hodges, never seemed to be able to come back into the game (17-8). The Aussies did put a string of points in the business end of the set but it was too little too late (25-17).
In the beginning of the second set, Australia set out to show they were no pushovers and rushed into the lead (4-6). But the home side hit back superbly as Ngapeth turned on the style (16-12). With the wind in their sails, Les Bleus scored four straight points with any kind of reaction from Australia except from Peacock who served into the net to make it 2-0 (25-20).
Les Bleus continued their dominating performance at the net as Jonas Aguenier claimed a monster block to increase France’s lead to three points (9-6). A last ditch effort kept Australia’s hopes of an upset alive as Tillie misfired (14-16). But Thibault Rossard spiked and Aguenier blocked again as the French staged a revival of their own (21-19). And it was Boyer who wrapped it up for France, despite squandering nine match points (36-34).
France coach Laurent Tillie: “This match was more peaceful than the previous ones, given the opponents’ game was a little easier to read. The Australians passed well, which surprised me. I thought we should have pushed them more. They have undeniable physical qualities but the other teams are more skilled. What I gathered from the matches this weekend is that we won three times, giving all the players some court time. Our goal is to have as many wins as possible, above all in France, because we play in front of our home crowd.”
France player Earvin Ngapeth: “We felt really good. The important thing was to have all of us play a little, feel the rhythm and connection again. We are all satisfied with the amount of court time we had. Three wins, that’s good for confidence, but then again we need to keep on working.
We have planned some turnover for the next rounds in order to arrive at the final round fully pumped up and prepared. It’s rare that we will have the opportunity to play in France. This year, a big event will take place in Lille and I’m hoping the stadium will be packed with our supporters. Winning a trophy in front of our fans would be historical.”
Australia player Jordan Richards: “We were close. We did a good job tonight in keeping the ball up, but we need to close out these sets. Still, this is a long tournament. We’ve improved over the three games here and we are certainly getting close to winning some sets. We are hoping to get some wins in the next matches of the Volleyball Nations League.”
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