Returning to earth is impolite for the French volleyball team. In an Arena Stozice in Ljubljana, Slovenia, largely acquired from the Squadra Azzurra, the French lost in five sets (24-26, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 15-12) Wednesday September 7, in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. In the next round, the Italians will face Slovenia or Ukraine on Saturday in Katowice, Poland, for a place in the final.
Winners of Cuba in the round of 16 on Saturday, the Transalpins had provided two additional days of recovery, which weighed in the tie-break, where the French, who had battled against the Japanese on Monday, seemed dull. France was also not favored by the refereeing in the fourth set, when a contentious decision offered three set points to Italy (24-21).
Falling from their pedestal is painful for the Olympic champions in Tokyo, winners of the League of Nations. Even against one of the favorites of the competition, this elimination in the quarter-finals of the World Cup is a big disappointment. Appointed in March at the head of the team, the Italian coach Andrea Giani had announced before the tournament that he was visiting a place in the last four.
“Everything goes very quickly in volleyball because the best teams are very close. At each international competition, a dozen teams can win.declared Earvin Ngapeth two weeks ago, the attacking receiver of the Blues, who won a high level tournament.
Too many serving faults
What to remember from this competition? “Overall we didn’t play well, but even in the tough times we weren’t disunited, we continued to play as a team. It shows that this team is mentally strong. This is what makes me optimistic for the future,” replies Mr. Giani. The Italian coach is now “part of the family”, to use an expression used by several players. Charismatic, experienced, the coach of Modena does not seem unduly weakened by this failure. For the team’s executives, he is the right person to lead them to a second Olympic title in Paris in 2024.
One of his priority projects will be to advance the Habs in service and block defense, he who was one of the best blockers of his generation. During the World Cup, the Blues sinned in these two key sectors. Against Slovenia, in their second pool match, they committed thirty-two service faults, a record. And against Japan, their blocks looked crumbly, while their opponents were disadvantaged by their smaller size.
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