FRANCE flashed its Olympic gold medal-winning form in beating The Netherlands, 25-14, 25-23, 25-13, for its fifth victory in the Volleyball Nations League on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It was only in the second set when the Dutch showed a semblance of a tough challenge against the world No. 3 French juggernaut, which rallied to reach the set point, 24-21, stepped back one bit to let their foes to come within 23-24 before Barthelemy Chinenyeze delivered the set-clinching kill.
“In the second set, we just found a way to come back,” said Stephen Boyer, who led France with 11 kills and four service aces for 15 point. “It’s always good to win. We played good volleyball today.”
Chinenyeze added 12 points, including the set-clinching kill that gave the Tokyo Olympics gold medalists a 2-0 set lead. Trevor Clevenot fired two service aces to finish with 11 points while Nicolas Le Goff imposed his will in the middle with six points for a 10-point outing for France.
Counting Tuesday’s forfeit win against China, France improved to 5-1 in the standings. “It’s always good to win. We played good volleyball,” said Boyer. Earvin N’ Gapeth, the Most Valuable Player at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, thanked Filipino fans and hoped to play two more impressive games in the VNL’s Quezon City leg.
“I received a lot of messages from the Filipino people. It’s so cool to be here to play volleyball here,” said N’ Gapeth, who had eight points, five receptions and four digs. “I hope we will make two good games for the fans. This is for the fans here in the Philippines.”
France’s lone setback came at the hands of world No. 1 Poland in Week 1 in Ottawa, Canada, last June 12.
France will play Japan on Saturday and Germany on Sunday. Bennie Tuinstra and captain Nimir Abdel-Aziz each had 11 points for the Dutch, who suffered their third setback in six matches.
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The China-Germany game set at 3 p.m. also on Thursday was canceled after the Germans refused to play the Chinese despite having been cleared by local health authorities after testing positive for Covid-19.
The Chinese now has a 3-0 record after the forfeiture.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes