WL: Poland still out of shape. Bulgaria chases Brazil

Poland failed another match in World League, this time  with France and super libero Jenia Grebennikov. Now Poland needs to believe in victories in all remaining games because only that scenario may provide a Final Six advance to the defending champion/ Bulgaria claimed an easy win versus Argentina getting advanced to second place in pool A standings. After Sunday’s round, Camillo Placi’s wards can already catch up Brazil.




France – Poland 3 – 2 (25-23, 21-25, 22-25, 25-21, 15-11)

France: Redwitz 6, Ngapeth 20, Hardy-Dessources 9, Sidibe 2, Lynnel 18, Le Roux 3, Grebennikov (L) and Moreau 13, Toniutti 3, Quesque 1
Poland: Zygadlo 4, Winiarski 14, Mozdzonek 11, Bartman 20, Kurek 16, Nowakowski 10, Ignaczak (L) and Wrona, Jarosz, Ruciak 2, Kubiak

By the sounds of  various music during the holiday of music in Rouen, France achieved its first success in World League 2013 beating higher noted Poland after five set struggle. The defending champions confirmed once more poor preparation and as a results a lack of shape. The problem does not concern only players, but it also and sometimes mainly the head-coach of Poland Andrea Anastasi. He committed a lot of mistakes in guiding the team including odd substitutions and a lack of them in the most vital moments. While Laurent Tille, privately a friend and ex teammate of Anastasi, showed a flash of genius changing well-playing Rafael Redwitz to Benjamin Toniutti, who totally led up Polish players the garden path. Moreover, Tille could rely on young and gifted Jania Grebennikov no doubt the man of the match with more than 80% efficiency in reception.

With no victories since the beginning of the 2013 World League, France and Poland shared a common goal while competing in Rouen on Friday night: securing a first win.

Playing in a loud KinderArena packed with a mix of French and Polish fans, France started the game in a very clean and efficient. France led the first set from the beginning. French head coach Laurent Tillie chose former Brasilian Rafael Redwitz as first setter. France took a fast start, to lead 8-7, then 16-14, to finally conclude the set 25-23 in 35 minutes. The last point was given up by Michal Winiarski’s missed serve.

But, as expected, Poland reacted as the Polish typically do, with a strong serve and a solid block. Poland needed 30 minutes to tie the game 25-21. They then looked just as impressive in the third set, winning 25-22.

The fourth set started exactly the same way, with Poland leading and the young French team forced to fight on every single point just to stay alive. At 16-11, Poland seemed destined for their first success in the World League. But France, pushed by an enthusiastic crowd, decided to show how talented they can be on a volleyball court. Leaded by their setter and captain, the young Benjamin Toniutti, who served 2 aces, France survived to tie the game 25-21.

The tie-break was all blue. France sped to the lead like a sport car, driven by Earvin Ngapeth, the team’s leading scorer with 20 points. Poland could not recover. France needed only two match points to conclude the game 15-11, with Earvin Ngapeth clinching the set with a decisive spike.

Winner of the World League last year, Poland lost their third game in a row. For France, this victory came at the best time, after two defeat at home against Bulgaria and then two more on the road against Team USA.


Bulgaria – Argentina 3 – 0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-16)

Bulgaria: G. Bratoev 2, Skrimov 3, Gotsev 8, Sokolov 20, Aleksiev 10, Salparov (L) and Bratoev 4
Argentina: De Cecco 1, Pereyra 6, Sole 7, Castellani 8, Quiroga 7, Crer 2, Gonzalez (L) and Uriarte 1, Ramos, Poglajen 1, Romanutti

The Bulgarian Lions crushed any attempt of resistance from Argentina, and brought the delight of professional volleyball to the 12,500 fans.

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The bad luck against Argentina from the last year (3 losses) is now looking as a bad memory from the past. Without Matey Kaziyski, Andrey Zhekov, Vladimir Nikolov, Nikolay Nikolov, expectations for this Bulgaria were different. Camillo Placi’s wise guidance and famous Lions’ spirit brought clear result – nobody should write off them out of big accountancy.

Saturday’s game started fast and furious for Bulgaria at 7-1. Bulgaria’s powerful attack and serve and smooth working block left no chance for Argentina to react. Castellani, Quiroga and Sole tried to make a comeback, but Sokolov was scoring, backed very well by the new captain Aleksiev.

The second set brought more emotions to the crowd for Argentina, as the Gauchos came back from the shocking first part while managing to take the lead in the middle of the set 16-12. Valentin Bratoev made up for the difference with a spike and few serves. Middle blockers Gotsev and Yosifov were the other difference in favor for Bulgaria.

Castellani and Sole worked hard for their team again, but were not able to secure a win for Argentina. Aleksiev never tired, and Sokolov just closed the match for the joy of the fantastic audience.