Rouzier shines in France’s opening day win
France overcame China’s strong challenge to post a 3-1 (25-13, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21) win on opening day at the Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday.
Antonin Rouzier had a stunning performance, scoring 20 of his 22 points from the attack line. Kevin Tillie and Earvin Ngapeth also waxed hot from the flanks to record 19 and 15 points, respectively. Zhang Chen led China with 15 points, including 10 attacks, four blocks and an ace.
France coach Laurent Tillie: “I’m happy with the result of 3-1. China played well. I was impressed with their setters, wing spikers and opposites. I think the result speaks for the difference in experience of the teams. We had unity in the team and that helped us to win. I took off Earvin Ngapeth in the middle of the match because we have other great players.”
France captain Benjamin Toniutti: “It was a tough match because China played well. The French team did not know much about China. We were down in the second set but came back to win in four sets and get the three points. We will now focus on tomorrow’s match. China’s block was very good. They were ready for our attacks many times. Ngapeth played well in the first set but lost pace like the rest of the team in the second set.
China coach Xie Guochen: “I was able to see why France is a great team with great experience. We played well. I hope we will gain more experience from these matches. We were not able to relax and play well in key moments. We will continue to play hard in the coming matches.”
China captain Jiao Shuai: “We played a strong team. We were able to show our strength. We could not find our pace in the first set which made it tough. It was a see-saw game and we ended up losing, so it was frustrating. France put up a good defence.”