Milan, Italy, September 30,2010 – An amazing haul of 22 points by Facundo Conte inspired Argentina to beat France for the sixth successive time with a dominant 3-1 (25-16, 17-25, 23-25, 21-25) win in the first match of the FIVB Men’s World Championship second round Pool M in Milan on Thursday.
Conte, with his famous father Hugo looking on from the commentary box, was on fire with some sensational serving helping Argentina win the crucial third set and a fine all-round offensive game.
At the beginning of the opening set, with Inter Milan footballers Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti in the crowd, Argentina made the better start with two superb spikes from captain Rodrigo Quiroga and wing spiker Federico Pereyra. However, this would be the only time they would lead in the set. Stephane Antiga responded for France with a spike to level the score at 2-2 before France crept ahead at the first technical timeout (TTO) 8-7. It wasn’t long before France were leading 10-8 and they then opened up a six-point gap at 15-9. Argentina fought back with some diligent play from Conte but the set was all over by that stage and France wrapped it up easily with a Pierre Pujol ace.
The second set followed a similar pattern to the first, but with Argentina leading throughout. Up 6-2, Argentina never looked back as French coach Philippe Blain called for a timeout. Antonin Rouzier tried to rescue France with his best efforts in attack but Argentina still led 8-3 at the first TTO. Sensing their opportunity, Argentina upped the tempo with a display of aggression, Blain changed setter Pujol for Benjamin Toniutti to try to spark a recovery but with Argentina leading 16-8 there was little hope. Some outstanding defence from Argentina libero Alexis Gonzalez further helped Argentina who ran out winners of the second set, 25-17.
Conte scored the first point of the third set, which he was later to finish as well. France did have the lead however at the first TTO, 8-4. A Rouzier spike and an Oliver Kieffer block maintained France’s lead, while Argentina did their best to keep pace with some lovely double-dummy spiking. The lead changed from 13-10 to 16-11 in France’s favour before Argentina clawed their back again to 20-17 down. Down 23-22 it was time to cue a Conte classic. A Sole attack blocked out by France put Conte on the service line at which point he proceeded to provide an ace and an undefendable serve to wrap up the set for the world No. 9.
The Conte heroics inspired Argentina on to a thoroughly deserved win in the fourth and final set. France took the third set defeat hard and never really recovered. Argentina led 2-0 and with Conte by this stage in full swing led 8-5 at the first TTO. Romain Vadelux scored with an incredible attack from the back row to try to inspire France but Argentina dug deep and held off the world No. 12. They were 16-11 up at the second TTO, finishing off the set and the match with a four-point advantage.