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Boyer sends France to a comfortable victory over Canada

Stephen Boyer spikes

Antwerp, Belgium, June 17, 2017 - France bounced back from Friday’s loss to Italy with a commanding 2017 World League victory (25-16, 25-15, 25-21) against Canada in their penultimate Group One fixture in Antwerp.

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Les Bleus threw away a two-sets-to-one lead to lose to rivals Italy in the same arena 24 hours earlier, but Stephen Boyer was in magnificent form with 25 points (24 of which were spikes), while Antoine Brizard's brilliant serving helped to see off Canada with ease. Boyer stretches his lead at the top of the points scoring charts with 151 points from eight matches.

Stephen Timothy Maar led the scoring for Canada with 12 points, but too many of their danger men were unable to breach a stern French rearguard, with the normally prolific Graham Vigrass landing just three of nine spike attempts.

Both sides started cautiously in the first World League meeting between the nations since 1991, with the scores locked at 9-9 in the opening set, but France soon established a four-point lead (14-10) with Stephen Boyer and Thibault Rossard beginning to yield some magic. Canada were back within two points at 18-16 behind, but Les Bleus conjured up seven successive points to see out the set with ease, 25-16.

Stephane Antiga’s Canada, who survived a strong Belgian fightback to win 3-2 on Friday night, started well in the second set and moved into a 5-3 lead, but that only served to inspire the French who began to pick their opponents off with ease. A combination of solid serving – led by the imperious Boyer – and deft, clinical finishing saw Les Bleus stride into a 13-8 advantage, and the gap would increase further. Canadian errors were being punished ruthlessly and a poor serve on set point gifted it to France (25-15) who were now firmly in charge of the match.

Three of Canada’s four victories in the competition have come in five sets, but they never looked like extending that record against an inspired French team. Laurent Tillie’s men, who were hoping to avoid losing back-to-back World League matches for the first time since 2014, forged ahead early in the third set, and slowly edged away from the dispirited Canadians at 18-12. The underdogs rallied briefly but Les Bleus closed out the set (25-21) and the match to cement top spot in the group ahead of Serbia.

Matches on Sunday:

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