Spain and Slovenia offered the most exciting game of the tournament so far. After leading 1-0, Slovenia was close to take also the second set but Spain kept their hopes alive with a better finish (24-26). The Slovenians stayed focus on the match to add the third set on their capital. At 2-2 in the set count, both teams needed to play a great decisive fifth set. Spain took the lead from the start (4-1) and kept the distance with their opponents to win this section of the game 15-8 and join France at the top of the standings. Slovenia will have to forget that they were so close to clinch the victory on trying to take the third position in the group, which is the last to grant the qualification for a third round to be played in July.
He won but he is upset. With the victory of France against Finland in today’s first match in Marseille the French coach, Fabrice Vial, gave realistic quotes: "For about 90 % of the match we didn’t play as I wanted. Nobody took the leadership. Tonight I’m upset. My players didn’t respect what I had asked for before the game. We offered all the time too many opportunities to our opponents. I’m anxious before playing now against Greece and Spain. Finland did their best and put some doubts into our minds. I’m now waiting for the next matches for a positive reaction..." From his side, Marko Silvonen, the Finnish coach, commented without any excessive disappointment: "Today we competed for the match as we had prepared it in front of a French opponent that was undoubtedly superior to us. I have to congratulate the French girls for their success”.
The French presented a team modified in comparison with the game against Slovenia. Fabrice Vial did some changes to allow Irina Polechtchouk and Hélène Schleck or Séverine Liénard, important players in the playing system of the French ladies, to recover from their previous efforts. The first set was very close (19-19) but France succeeded in seizing it. In the second set the Finns continued to put pressure on the French team and were leading the way at the second technical break (16-15). But one more time in the decisive moments the French players performed well to catch the second set as well (25-20). Finland took the third set, a real reward for the efforts this team had performed in the previous sections of the game, which could start dreaming about a possible tie-break (25-21). Leading 8-4 in the fourth set, the Finns were in the good way to come back into the match. But the French bounced back to take the lead 16-12 and to finish easily at 25-14.
Victim on Thursday evening of an injury in the match against France, and namely of a sprain in the straight right ankle with a light stretching of the ligament, Slovene Anja Zdovc will have to rest for about two weeks before resuming back to competition. A hard blow for the team of coach Tilen Kozamernik which lose one of their best players.
France vs. Finland 3-1 (25-22, 25-20, 21-25, 25-14)
Slovenia vs. Spain 2-3 (25-19, 24-26, 25-21, 15-25, 8-15)
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS