Łódź, Poland, June 26, 2016 – World champions Poland struggled to get going as they went down to defending FIVB Volleyball World League and European champions France in three sets (30-28, 25-20, 31-29) in Lodz on Sunday
Without a doubt it was a showdown between Bartosz Kurek (21 points) and Earvin Ngapeth (14 points), even if the best scorer of the French side was Thibault Rossard (21 points), who substituted yesterday’s man of the match Antonin Rouzier.
France started with passion and took a three-point advantage 5-2, which forced coach Stephane Antiga to call for a break. Nothing changed though and at the first technical time-out, after a block from Nicolas Le Goff and Thibault Rossard their team led 8-4. Poland kept chasing their opposition and reduced the gap to one point (11-12). Rossard, who substituted injured Antonin Rouzier in the line-up, showed his skills in spike and was not scared of Polish wall. Luckily for the home team, Bartosz Kurek woke up on the right wing giving the desired tie at 21 all. The White-Reds proved they like prolonged sets and this part ended at 30-28, after two missed serves on both sides and massive kill by Earvin Ngapeth.
Second set looked similar to the first one. Les Bleus took a comfortable five-point lead over helpless hosts (8-3). Poland made ten errors in previous set and also here could not miss new ones. They slowly worked on coming closer, but Ngapeth was unrelenting in spike. Kurek answered powerfully and France’s advantage was reduced to three points (19-16). In the end Laurent Tillie’s team paced the game and Ngapeth finished in his style at 25-20.
The ten-minute break gave Poland a chance to take a deep breath and start with new power and cleaner minds. Rafał Buszek finally broke through the French block and gave his team a 6-4 lead. It seemed that France is getting back on track with a three-points lead at 10-7, but the Kurek-Bednorz duo stepped in and there was 12-12. A point by point battle continued until 20-18 and Kevin Le Roux’s point scored from the middle. Polish Eagles stepped up their efforts, but even Kurek was not able to flip the charts around. The tight ending was full of missed chances and neither of the two killers - Kurek and Ngapeth - could end this part. Finally the Polish leader spiked outside the line and after a massive hit by Ngapeth France exploded with joy at 31-29.