France dominated in nearly every part of the game against Italy
Sydney, Australia, June 17, 2016 - France's Kevin Tillie was in imperious form as his side shot down any doubts that they couldn't replicate the form that sent them to a World League title in 2015, following a comprehensive 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-18) win over Italy in the opening match of Group A in Sydney.
France were too strong all over the court as both Tillie and Nicholas Marechal scored 13 points for the 2015 champions to brush aside their European neighbours.
France extended their unbeaten run to four games against their fellow European side, and with both teams preparing for the Rio Olympics, the advantage went to France, though Italy will know that history is on their side, as they lead the head-to-head 24-15.
France dominated the opening set, but somehow let Italy back into the game to have the match level at 23-23. Nicolas Marechal’s serve for France caused all sorts of problems for the Italians, allowing the defending World League champions to open up an early break. While the serving of both teams was an early highlight, so was the serve receive. After being a little scratchy early in the set, it was Ivan Zaytsev and Luca Vettori who dragged their team back into the game before France regained their composure to take the set 25-23
The French were getting great results from Kevin Tillie, and that continued into the second set. Once again the Italians found themselves in big trouble, but once again they climbed back into the set. The big Frenchman, Kevin Le Roux, was finding a strong scoring avenue through the middle, with Nicolas Le Goff also proving damaging. With the set looking lost, it was Zaytsev again who got the Italians back into the match with several strong blocks and spikes. But with Tillie, Le Roux and Le Goff continuing to score decisive points from all over the court, the French never looked out of control as they took a 2-0 lead with a 25-22 second set scoreline.
When France opened up an early lead in the third set the Italian spirit was finally broken. Tillie, Le Roux and Le Goff were having a good time and setter and captain Benjamin Toniutti was always in control as the 2015 World League champions got their 2016 campaign off to a perfect start, taking a straight sets victory with a 25-18 win.