France power through to knockout stage

Baku, June 20, AZERTAC

France secured a place in the knockout stage of the men's volleyball competition after beating Turkey 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-16) in the first match of the day at Crystal Hall on Sunday.

Despite playing pool matches every other day, and with one still to come, coach Marc Francastel (FRA) revealed he wants to avoid Germany and Russia and as such, he will not be rotating his team against Serbia on Monday.

"Yes of course I'm happy (to have qualified with a match left)," Francastel said. "Now it's important to finish higher because in the other pool there are two very good teams in Germany and Russia, so if we can play another team in the quarterfinal it's better for us.

"Russia are a young team of a high level. We try to win every match, we won't be resting players."

Francastel's side took a 10-7 lead early on only to be trailing 16-15 a few minutes later. Turkey were still leading at 23-22, but three successive points from Trevor Clevenot (FRA) secured the set.

After points were traded evenly in the second set, the teams were level at 15-15 before France established a two-point gap. That was enough to see them through as comfortable winners.

Four consecutive points were scored by France in the final set to lead 7-3 and thereafter the they cruised towards victory. Eight match points were there to be used, but at the first time of asking Jonas Aguenier (FRA) won the match when his spike was too good for the Turks.

Power training is on the agenda for the French team on Saturday evening after they catch up on sleep they missed due to the early start.

"I think we played very well," Francastel added. "It's not easy for us to play at 09:00. This is the first time. We didn't serve very well but it's a good match for us."

After successive defeats in Pool B, Slovakia defeated Belgium 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 25-21, 25-19) to move above the red dragons in the table.

Despite losing the second set, Slovakia rallied to come back and dominated at the net in the final two sets to secure the win.

In terms of qualification for the quarterfinals from Pool B, Italy will be eliminated if they fail to beat Germany at 22:00, while Belgium have to win their final game, also against Germany, if they are to progress.

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