By Le Figaro with AFP
Unrecognizable during the group stage, the Blues swept the Bulgarians 3 sets to 0 on Friday in Varna and will face the Romanians in the quarters.
To silence 5,200 excited spectators, nothing better than three services from Earvin Ngapeth. In the luxury joker role, due to his long unavailability of four months for an injury to his right thigh, the French volleyball star did not fail. While the old Palace of Culture and Sport was on fire at the end of the first set for the host team which was then tied with France (19-19), Ngapeth, 32, allowed his team to take off in the round (25-21), and in this round of 16.
If his statistical impact is limited (1 point, two receptions), his entry freed the Blues. “We talked a lot after the first part of the tournament, we were starting to doubt and we are less good when we doubt. This Friday, we had fun and we set fire, it’s the most successful match of this Euro», Analyzed the best player of the Tokyo Olympic tournament.
Chinenyeze and Carle in sight
But to explain this clear victory for the Blues by the sole entry, at the end of the 1st and 2nd sets, of Ngapeth, would be to insult his teammates, in particular Barthélémy Chinenyeze and Timothée Carle, authors of 13 and 10 points respectively. This would also be forgetting that the Blues have closed ranks on counterattacks (8 pts) and have improved their “statistics» in reception, while avoiding experiencing slumps at the end of the set, as during the group stage.
“We mastered the game from start to finish“, summarized Ngapeth. “It wasn’t a perfect match, but we played well, added his coach Andrea Giani. We prepared well for this match, also with everything we did during the group stage in Tel Aviv, with what worked well and what worked less well.“. There were still too many service errors (18), but for Giani, “we have made great progress in this area»: «This is an important first step for the rest of the tournament», insisted the Italian selector of the Blues.
Monday, in the quarter-finals, still in Varna, they will meet the Romanians, earlier winners over the Croatians (3-2), with a double objective: to wash away the insult of the group stage (3-1 defeat) and win their ticket for the Final Four in Rome. “We want to take our revenge, warns Ngapeth. But be careful, this is a team that plays very well. Maybe we arrived peacefully in the group match, we want revenge“.