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France roll on to Group 2 title and Final Six in Rio

 
Varna, Bulgaria, July 11, 2015 – France continued their unprecedented winning streak in the FIVB Volleyball World League on to the Group 2 final against Bulgaria, which they won by 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-21) despite a totally overpacked with noisy home fans competition hall in Varna and booked the last remaining vacancy at the Finals of Group 1 in Brazil.

What was Bulgaria’s main weapon in Friday’s semifinal, now was in the hands of their opponents.  The French scored 9 aces against none from the home team.  Five of them were authored by Kevin Le Roux.  His teammate Antonin Rouzier top scored with 18 points.

The French team started the match as a finely-tuned machine showcasing volleyball of the highest level.  Nothing could go wrong for them in a set like this.  Two consecutive aces by Kevin Le Roux took France to a 16-10 lead at the technical time-out, which Les Blues expanded to 25-16, fixed by a successful triple block against Vladimir Nikolov.  The story of the second set was quite similar.  It was again Le Roux’s serving that gave the Bulgarians a lot of hard time and made the score 16-10 at the second mandatory break.  The frustration even resulted in a yellow card for coach Plamen Konstantinov.  Still, this time the Lions put on a battle to stay in contention, but this was enough only for a less embarrassing 20-25 in the end.
 
Inspired by the deafening support from the stands, the home squad was not just ready to surrender yet.  Their performance in the third set was finally able to match that of their opponents.  Konstantinov made some important changes in his line-up and this seemed to help Bulgaria stay alive.  With improved blocking and defence, the Lions were in line through 20-20, but after that Les Blues were ready to go for the home run.  Once again, with Le Roux behind the serving line, France’s blockers made the difference in the conclusive moments to reach match point.  But in the end it was a beautiful ace by Antonin Rouzier that got the French party started at 25-21.

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