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France earns hard-fought victory over Argentina in Salta


Both teams did well in blocking in a very close battle in Salta

  Salta, Argentina, July 6, 2013 – In a terrific five-setter in Polideportivo Delmi, France achieved another victory to keep alive their hopes of a place in the World League Finals in Mar del Plata. The Europeans held off a struggling Argentinean side 3-2 (25-18, 25-18, 17-25, 22-25, 15-11).

Earvin Ngapeth led all scorers with a solid performance and 24 kills, while teammate Julien Lyneel added 14. For Argentina, Sebastián Solé unleashed five blocks in an overall total of 17 points, followed by Federico Pereyra and Bruno Romanutti, both with 16 points.

A strong serving streak by Mory Sidibe carried France to a 6-2 lead in the first set and even though Pablo Bengolea answered quickly with an ace to shorten the gap to 6-5, the first technical timeout arrived with the French three points ahead. With good defence, a sharp counterattack and effective blocks, it was easy for the visiting side to extend their lead to six points at the second TTO. A solid block executed by Luciano De Cecco narrowed the gap by three, but Argentina couldn’t get any closer. Julien Lyneel spiked to reopen a six-point gap at 22-16 and France cruised to the end of the set.

Both teams blocked well in the first moments of the second set – Solé and Pereyra for the home side, Lyneel and Ngapeth for France. In a much closer start, les Bleus stepped ahead to lead by a point at the first TTO and by two at the second break. The French blocks reappeared in the final phase and Argentina contributed with a number of unforced errors. A long serve gave France six set points, but they only needed one.

In the third set, Nicolás Bruno delighted the crowd with an outstanding save over the advertising panels, but France showed no surprise and the scores remained close. Argentina took the lead (8-7) for the first time at a TTO after a bad ball from Sidibe and, spurred on by their fans, opened up a two-point gap at the second TTO with spikes from Federico Pereyra and Bruno Romanutti. Bruno performed well and Argentina enjoyed a 19-16 advantage that grew to 21-16 with an amazing block by Solé. Pereyra and Crer also blocked to earn seven set points and Solé, with a float serve, finished things off.

Argentina were much more active in defence early in the fourth set and with more blocks from Crer and Romanutti, the local guys advanced to 9-5. However, France levelled the scores at 11-11 with a soft touch by Ngapeth. The match went point-by-point until Pereyra nailed a great dig and Solé blocked once more to improve to 19-17. Swiftly, Ngapeth blocked Romanutti to bring France back to life, but Argentina powered back with Solé’s fifth successful block and another one from Pereyra to lead 23-21. The wing spiker countered on the next point and Romanutti came back to the field to clinch the set and force the tie-break.

Once again, Lyneel’s serve was difficult to handle for Argentina and France went ahead 4-2 in the final set. Moreau scored with his serving to boost his side to 7-4 and Ngapeth joined in as France led 8-4 at the changeover. Even though Argentina climbed back to 8-10, Ngapeth stayed lethal and France’s top scorer guided his team to victory.

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