Lausanne, Switzerland, May 5, 2015 – After problems with his move to Kazan, Benjamin Toniutti was able to join Friedrichshafen and help them to the German title. Now the French setter and team captain is looking forward to representing his country.
What are your goals this season with Les Bleus?
The primary objective is the World League. We want to reach the Final Six in Brazil. We really want to qualify, especially as last year we didn’t make as much progress as we had hoped. After that, we have the European Championship and our goal is to get a medal. Expectations will be high so we will need to prepare well.
How will you approach the international season?
Very calmly, because we will have a large part of the group from the World Championship. We will continue with the same style of play and we are getting to know each other very well, both on and off the court. I cannot wait to return to the France team.
You are a champion in Germany and Kevin Tillie is a champion in Turkey – do these good club results bring confidence to the national team?
Yes, inevitably, and this goes both ways: As we have done well for France at the World Championship, Europe's top clubs have recruited French players and have confidence in them. As good results followed in the clubs, the dynamic will now benefit the France team. It's very positive.
When you went to Berlin for the fourth game of the Bundesliga Finals, things weren’t looking so good …. how did you feel about it?
It is true we were trailing 2-1 before the game and Berlin had prepared everything to celebrate the title at home. At one point, we found ourselves 2-1 down and losing 16-14 in the fourth set, but we didn’t panic and came back to win the tiebreaker. We spoiled their party and above all, I think we dented their confidence before the fifth game in Friedrichshafen.
Which ended with a 3-1 win?
We came back strong in the match, with great confidence, and put a lot of pressure on their service.
How was the atmosphere?
It was fantastic. We played in a great atmosphere with a full house, 4,000 people who were all behind us. It had been three years since Berlin won the title, so it was a great satisfaction and pride to bring the Bundesliga title to Friedrichshafen. There was a lot of emotion in the whole club.
Despite the title, you decided to leave Friedrichsafen for Polish club Kedzierzyn-Kozle – why?
I enjoyed my experience here. Friedrichsafen is a very nice city, an ideal setting to play volleyball. I felt very good. Simon Tischer, another setter on the team, is still under contract and they do not necessarily have the means to have two setters. And it was not my goal to stay. It was great to come and play here for three months, but the problem of the German championship, is that there are only two very big teams. The level is lower than in Poland, Italy or even France where it is more homogeneous. So I wanted to go back to Italy or to go to Poland. When the Polish offer came, I could not refuse.