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France and Bulgaria post first victories, Germany score second win on Day 2 of European Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament

 
Kevin Le Roux (left) and Earvin Ngapeth are in high spirits after France's victory over Olympic gold medallists Russia Day 2 of the European Men's Olympic Qualfication Tournament in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday
 
Berlin, Germany, January 6, 2016 – Pool A contenders Bulgaria and France produced convincing victories over Russia and Finland, respectively, while Germany stayed on the winning course in Pool B with a win over Serbia on the second day of the European Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament at Max-Schmeling-Halle on Wednesday.

Bulgaria celebrated its first victory with a 3-1 (29-27, 25-15, 23-25, 25-22) win over Finland, as Bulgarian heavy hitter Todor Skrimov exploded with 26 points to outscore Finland’s Olli-Pekka Ojansivu, who charted 18 points.

Finland started off strong with an 8-5 lead but Bulgaria turned the tide with an exciting 29-27 victory in the first set. Bulgaria sustained their momentum to chart a 25-15 win that gave them a 2-0 set-advantage, but Finland countered with a strong 25-23 finish in the third set. Bulgaria no longer hesitated in the fourth period and claimed the set and match 25-22.

In a battle of champions, FIVB Volleyball World League winners France overwhelmed Olympic gold medallists Russia 3-1 (25-15, 20-25, 25-17, 25-19) that capped the day’s fixtures. Earvin Ngapeth and Antonin Rouzier spearheaded France’s offence with 26 and 19 points, respectively, while Maxim Mikhaylov led Russia with 19 points.

France and Russia had an even start but the former extended the gap and sustained momentum to capture the first set 25-15. Russia showed more muscle to equalise in the second set 25-20, but the World League champions used a run-and-gun offence that built a 20-12 lead and the eventual 25-17 win in the third set. As both teams have warmed-up, Russia and France had another tight encounter but France strengthened their offence and defence to claim the fourth set 25-19.

In Pool A, Gyorgy Grozer steered Germany to a straight-set (25-20, 26-24, 25-20) triumph over Serbia. Grozer scored 19 points, including 15 kills and four aces; while Aleksandr Atanasijevic scored 17 points. 

The hosts fought for every rally that rewarded them a 25-20 win in the first set. Serbia almost saw the end of the set but Germany’s persistence still prevailed in the second set 26-24. Grozer’s service ace gave Germany the 18-17 lead and his kill extended their lead 20-17. Team-mate Denys Kaliberda sealed match victory at 25-20.




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