Reigning Olympic champion France stamped its class over fellow leader Japan in a huge straight-set conquest, 25-22, 27-25, 25-16, to take its sixth win in the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Saturday afternoon at the SMART Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The win put France in solo lead for now with a 6-1 win-loss record.
Opposite hitter Jean Patry took charge for the French squad with 14 points on 10 attacks, three blocks, and a service ace.
“It was a very difficult fight,” outside hitter Trevor Clevenot, who added 10 markers on nine attacks and a service ace, said of the win. “The Japanese team played amazingly, so it was difficult to find a solution to the attack. But in the end, we won 3-0 and that is what is important, and we had to take the three points today.”
Japan surprised everyone when they started with a completely different lineup from the usual ones they had fielded for the first set. The gamble paid dividends at the onset with the lead, but France banked on their defense to take a 21-17 advantage.
The Asian side threatened to snag the lead with a furious run towards the end of the frame. France, though, finished the set on their own terms, 25-22.
The second set was a tightly contested affair before Japan scored back-to-back points in transition to take a 17-15 lead. Japan then needed to stifle France thrice, but a block from the Europeans gave them the 2-0 advantage.
France headed into the technical timeout of the third ahead at 12-7, capitalizing on Japan’s faulty passing. The advantage grew to as high as eight, 17-9, and using that comfortable margin, France eventually closed the set and the match.
Yacine Louati also stepped up for France with eight points on six attacks, a block, and a service ace. Meanwhile, Bart Chinenyeze was an option at the middle with seven markers on six spikes and one service ace.
“I think Japan played a good match yesterday against Italy. So maybe, I think their players were a little bit tired,” Clevenot thought of Japan’s lineup adjustments. “But we played amazingly today, and I hope we do this again tomorrow.”
France will try to keep the winning streak going as it takes on Germany (3-4) on Sunday at 11:00 AM.
Tatsunori Otsuka, who played opposite hitter for today’s match, paced the Ryujin Nippon with 15 points, all coming from attacks. Kenta Takanashi was the other Japanese in double figures with 13 on 12 spikes and a block.
Japan, which slipped to 4-2, will close its Quezon City leg against Slovenia (3-3) later in the day at 3:00 PM.