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Lazcano leads Argentina to maiden victory

 
Julieta Constanza Lazcano in action against Cameroon
Yokohama, Japan, October 4, 2018 - Argentina picked up their first win of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on Thursday, edging Cameroon 3-0 (22-25, 20-25, 12-25) in Yokohama off the back of 14 Julieta Constanza Lazcano points.

Twelve of those came from spikes, with Elina Rodriguez also contributing 13 points to the Argentine effort, four of which were aces.

Cameroon’s top scorer was captain Christelle Tchoudjang Nana, who put up nine points but was nevertheless unable to prevent her team exiting the competition at the first round along with Argentina.

Things were incredibly tight the only other time these two met at a world major level tournament - when Argentina beat Cameroon 3-2 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, wrapping up the final set 15-13 - and the first set here followed a similarly tense pattern as the teams traded blows. A Laetitia Crescence Moma Bassoko spike had Cameroon 8-5 ahead at the first technical time out, but Argentina worked their way back into things and the sides went toe-to-toe all the way up to 22-21, when Guillermo Orduna’s side established control after a second successive Cameroon challenge was unsuccessful. Josefina Fernandez saw a spike blocked out to deliver set point, and then Ruth Manuela Marie Bibinbe served long to give the South Americans their first set of the competition.

Cameroon claimed theirs, and indeed Africa’s, first ever win at a World Championship in their opener against Mexico on 29 September, but failed to win a set in any of their following three games and knew they needed to take something here if they wanted to progress to the next round. They looked shaken by the first set loss though, and Argentina stormed into an 11–2 lead in the second. Even so, Cameroon weren’t going to go out with a whimper and mounted a spirited fight-back to 16-11 and then 24-20 with an ace and then a block from Nana. That was too little too late though, Yolande Juliana Amana Guigolo serving into the net to put Argentina 2-0 up. 

Argentina lost all four of their opening matches at this year’s competition 3-0, but had never lost their first five matches at an edition of the tournament and by now had the bit between their teeth. Captain Emilce Sosa had also started to click into top gear in her last match for her country and thoroughly enjoyed the final set, adding a further four points to her 12-point haul, including the first of two blocks to put her side 5-1 up. Argentina didn’t look back from that point on, and Lazcano added the gloss to a fine individual and team performance with the spike to wrap things up 25-12. 

Despite the victory Argentina already knew they had been eliminated from the competition, while the loss for Cameroon also saw them fall at the first hurdle.


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