France captain Benjamin Toniutti sets as Barthelemy Chinenyeze prepares an attack
Chicago, USA, July 10, 2019 - As the new head coach of last year's winners Tuomas Sammelvuo said on Tuesday, ahead of this week's FIVB Volleyball Nations League Finals in Chicago, every season has its history. And it is not because Russia were victorious in the final of last season's VNL that they will again prevail this year, or even on Thursday when they take on last year's runners-up France again.
France captain Benjamin Toniutti, however, adopts a cautious approach ahead of the encounter between the two teams on the second day of competition at the Credit Union Arena 1. France dropped their first match in Pool A on Wednesday and are now under the additional pressure of being in a must win situation against Russia.
"We have to play a little smarter than today," said Toniutti after his team's four set defeat to USA. "We tried to kill every ball, and we know that is rather difficult against this kind of block. Tomorrow will be the same against Russia as they have a strong block as well."
When Russia and France play on Thursday it will be their second encounter in the 2019 competition. France claimed victory 3-1 in Novi Sad in week 1, when Jean Patry and Kevin Tillie were the winners' leading scorers.
France coach Laurent Tillie said: "USA were better prepared and more aggressive and they created a lot of problems for us from the start. We tried to find solutions but it was quite difficult. But we had a good reaction in the third set and that is interesting. The next match is Russia and we will have to repeat what we did in the last sets today with a little more energy. The two teams made a lot of errors on serves today, and I hope we will be able to improve on this tomorrow."