Turin, Italy, October 10, 2015. The gold medalists from the 2015 FIVB Volleyball World League, France, recorded on Saturday afternoon their second consecutive victory in Pool B of the men’s EuroVolley 2015 at Palavela in Turin. Les Bleus did so by cruising to a 3-1 (25-13, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18) victory in their match with underdog Estonia and as everyone expected they are now going to fight with co-host Italy for the leadership in the pool. The program of the second competition day at the iconic venue came to an end with the match starring home heroes Italy and outsiders Croatia. Italy cruised to its second 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-19) victory in the competition to take another three points as well as the provisional leadership in the standings of the pool.
France vs. Estonia 3-1 (25-13, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18)
On Saturday afternoon France claimed their second victory in Pool B cruising to a 3-1 win in their match-up with Estonia after taking a few risks and this way they eventually dropped the third set. The first set was absolutely one-sided with the World League champions dominating right from the very beginning (8-2) as setter Benjamin Toniutti did a great job in pacing the game of Les Bleus. A spike by France’s super star Earvin Ngapeth finished the opening set at 25-13. The second set was a different story with Estonia playing a lot better. The two teams fought hard to claim the lead in the score and especially Ardo Kreek and Robert Taht were instrumental to Estonia’s good performance in this period. However, Kevin Tillie and Ngapeth did not seem ready to accept such close fight and responded well; after the score was leveled at 20 all, Estonia made some mistakes and France did not hesitate to use their chance to make it 25-22 and 2-0 in the match.
The third set followed the same plot with the score remaining close up to 17 all. Estonia showed a great performance in the final stages with Keith Pupart and Täht scoring a number of times with great spikes. France, on the other hand, made a lot of mistakes and Estonia deservedly took the set by 25-22. The fourth set was another close race with the score standing at 8 all after the first technical time-out. France, however, changed gear and moved the charts from 15-11 to 23-14. Although Estonia attempted a late comeback (24-18), Nicolas Le Goff closed the match at 25-18 for France’s second win in the competition.
France’s team captain and setter Benjamin Toniutti said: “We will fight for the first place in the pool against Italy; it will be very hard. We can be positive as we go into this deciding match with two wins. We will prepare attentively for the match: we feel some pressure and also the responsibility for being among the favorites of the tournament after winning this year’s World League.”
Estonia’s mentor Gheorghe Cretu said: “We are a little country, but there are a lot of volleyball players. We do not have the necessary experience to compete against all the top teams performing here. We fought; we had the motivation to do well. We understood that our opponents are human beings, and that they can make mistakes as well. Today we played better than yesterday. Tomorrow we have to do even better if we want to make it to the next round.”
Croatia vs. Italy 0-3 (22-25, 21-25, 19-25)
Italy claimed its second match in Pool B by 3-0 as the Palavela in Turin was packed with 5,000 fans who provided a great atmosphere for the second performance of the home heroes.
The first set was actually a close race; Croatia could count on the contribution of their star opposite spiker, Igor Omrcen, whereas Italy’s attackers were perfectly orchestrated by young setter Simone Giannelli. The score remained very close (10-10, 15-14) as Matteo Piano, Filippo Lanza and Osmany Juantorena performed very well for the home side. After Italy broke away at 19-16, the set ended at 25-22 Italy’s way following a great defense by libero Massimo Colaci and a spike by Lanza. The second set was another close affair with the score remaining tight almost through to the end. Ivan Mihalj performed extremely well in attack for Croatia but the visitors could not do much to stop a stellar Ivan Zaytsev who steered the Italian boat on their way to a 25-21 set win. The third set was a copy of the previous ones, with Croatia and Italy trying to move the score in their favor. Both teams performed very well and Lanza stood out for Italy with his display of excellent technique combined with physical prowess. Juantorena and team captain Simone Buti did well too and this team effort delivered the final 25-19 for another three points as Italy top the charts of the pool after two rounds.
Home star Filippo Lanza commented after the victory: “Croatia is a strong team, and we knew that we could afford only a very few mistakes. We need to show great determination in every match. We improved a lot in terms of the quality of our performance, but tomorrow against France it will be really tough. They play well, they can do well, but we play in Turin, and we can count on our fans to support us in this difficult match.”
Croatia’s Danijel Galic said: “We did not play very well today; our serving and reception were not so good. We have to improve these aspects of the game, whereas we did quite well at blocking and attacking. We started preparing for this European Championship only three weeks ago, so I know we can improve the level of our performance even though our participation in this competition may be approaching its end.”
For more information on the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men in social media, please use the competition’s official hashtag #EuroVolleyM.