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05/01/2020 22:00
Clean slates for France, Slovenia, Germany on day 1 of Olympic qualifiers
CEV Tokyo Volleyball European Qualification 2020 - Men

Berlin, Germany, January 5, 2020.  France, Slovenia and Germany could not have hoped for a better start in Europe’s men’s Olympic qualification tournament as they all posted straight-set victories, defeating Serbia, Belgium and Czech Republic, respectively on the first competition day of the race for a single Tokyo 2020 ticket.

Pool B: France vs. Serbia 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-22)

With captain and setter Benjamin Toniutti delivering a fantastic performance in organising his team’s offence, France mastered a 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-22) victory over reigning European champions Serbia in the tournament opener at the Max-Schmeling-Halle. The French spikers, especially opposite Jean Patry, capitalised on Toniutti’s superb feeds to take control of the first set and lead to a 25-21 close, with Earvin Ngapeth blocking for the last point. With Srecko Lisinac and Aleksandar Atanasijevic on fire at the net, Serbia opened up a 9-3 gap in the second set, but could not hold on to their lead. Sub-in Yacine Louati aced three times to help France not only catch up at 15-15, but step ahead to an 18-15 lead. It was Louati’s kill block that closed the set at another 25-21 France’s way. Set three went level through 20-20, but in the money time it was once again France that had the upper hand with Patry crowning his great performance with a hammer for the 25-22 winner and an individual match total of 22 points to top the charts.

Pool A: Slovenia vs. Belgium 3-0 (25-23, 28-26, 25-20)

Slovenia managed a 3-0 (25-23, 28-26, 25-20) victory over Belgium in the opening game of Pool A. Tonček Stern made the difference in the first set as he put away seven successful spikes towards a 25-23 Slovenian win fixed with a powerful hit by middle Alen Pajenk for the last point. Jolan Cox scored as many as 10 points for Belgium in a very hard-fought second set, but the team made way too many unforced errors to help the opponents. Deep into the overtime, it was once again Pajenk who delivered the closing point at 28-26. To add to the drama, the decision towards one of the set points was reversed twice by alternating video challenges. Three aces in a row by Stern helped Slovenia break away with an 11-8 lead in the third set, after which they kept pace to cruise to a comfortable 25-20 close. On a total of 20 points, Stern topped the scorers’ charts, followed by Cox on 19.

Pool A: Czech Republic vs. Germany 0-3 (19-25, 22-25, 20-25)

German opposite György Grozer led the home team to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-20) shutout of Czech Republic, inspired by a home crowd of over four thousand on the stands. A six-point run on the serving of captain Jakub Janouch gave Czech Republic a 10-8 lead and some hopes for success in the first set, but they were soon wiped out by the Germans on the way to an emphatic 25-19 win. At 22-17 in the second set, the Czechs seemed well on their way to leveling the match, when a phenomenal serving spree by Grozer was crowned by two consecutive aces for the last two points of an incredible turnaround - 25-22! The German opposite was the man of the third set as well. Further stepping up his spiking efforts and adding another two aces towards his match total of eight, Grozer led his team’s domination towards a 25-20 close and a clean slate for the home side. On a total of 21 points, Grozer topped the scorers’ chart of the match.

For further information, visit the official event website

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