France battle for three sets to defeat resilient Puerto Rico


Earvin Ngapeth and all France suffered some pressure from Puerto Rico en-route to a 3-0 win

Krakow, Poland, August 31, 2014 - It wasn’t such an easy task for France to earn their first at FIVB Men’s World Championship in Poland, as the Europeans had to deal with some good energy from Puerto Rico to prevail in three close sets 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 26-24).

Key points

Puerto Rico have now lost four games in a row at FIVB World Championship - the last three from Italy 2010 and this one against France.

It was only the second historical clash between these two teams. The only previous record goes back to 1974, with a 3-0 win for France at FIVB World Championship in Mexico.

France is playing the tournament for the 15th time, with a bronze medal in Argentina 2002 as their best final position recorded.

For Puerto Rico, Poland marks their fourth FIVB World Championship appearance, but it’s the third consecutive one for them.

Despite the loss, Puerto Rico had in Maurice Torres and captain Héctor Soto two good scoring performances, with 13 and 12 points respectively. For France, Antonin Rouzier also nailed a dozen and Kevin Le Roux followed him with 11 tallies. Les Bleus also outblocked Puerto Rico by a solid 7-0 margin.

Earvin Ngapeth was at the helm for France at the opening set, finishing with 6 points and pacing the way to both TTO, by 8-5 and 16-4. Torres and Soto tried to do the same for Puerto Rico, but they just could pull their side closer, never in front. When the board showed a narrow 22-20 for France, Rouzier managed the side-out and Ngapeth broke the block for the 25-23.

The best from Puerto Rico came to light afterwards, always with Soto actually captaining the ship. The red team managed to lead by 13-11 and 16-14, with some good serving pressure, but France answered the same way. Rouzier fired two sharp aces in a row and leveled the game by 20-20, allowing Le Roux to block for a French advantage at 22-20. And Le Roux himself used some help from the net to add one more ace, at 25-22.

With a challenge call, France managed to stay near Puerto Rico in the third set, with a much closer plot. Both teams remained leveled way past the second TTO, until French setter Benjamin Toniutti served an ace to push his team to 20-17. However, Puerto Rico proved to be resilient once again and tied the game at 23, providing a tight ending. Kevin Tillie jumped from the bench to smash the 25-24 and, in the next ball, another Le Roux ace wrapped up the game.


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