Tokyo, Japan, May 28, 2016 – France overcame China’s strong challenge to post a 3-1 (25-13, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21) win on opening day at the Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday.
Antonin Rouzier had a stunning performance, scoring 20 of his 22 points from the attack line. Kevin Tillie and Earvin Ngapeth also waxed hot from the flanks to record 19 and 15 points, respectively. Zhang Chen led China with 15 points, including 10 attacks, four blocks and an ace.
France completely dominated China in the first set, as they splurged on every opportunity to drill the net and floor defence of the latter. The French hitters had a field day on the attack that led to a 25-12 victory in the first set. China matched-up better in the second set as they challenged the European team after the second technical timeout. China scored a 4-1 run that levelled the score at 17-all. The intense exchanges at the net continued until China took over and secured the set with two consecutive blocks 25-22.
China challenged France to the very end of the third and fourth sets. In the third set, the Chinese blockers were able to contain the French attackers but their two errors gave the latter a 2-1 set-advantage at 25-23. Both teams started the fourth set with an intense exchange of powerful attacks but it was only in the final stages of the set where France clearly gained edge. Pierre Pujol came in for Benjamin Toniutti and helped out on defence and change the tempo of their offence. Pujol and Tillie scored on two consecutive well-placed taps that put them ahead 23-21, then China committed two errors that ended the match at 25-21.