Montpellier, France, September 1, 2018 - It was a truly triumphal day for French teams as the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in Montpellier ended on Saturday with players from the host country claiming four of the six medals at stake – and a clean sweep of the top honours as well as of the men’s podium.
Only teams from France and Switzerland were still in contention for the medals as the competition resumed on Saturday with the women’s semis. Home favourites Ophelie Lusson and Laura Longuet cancelled six set points and three match points at the end of the first and second sets, respectively, but eventually lost 16-21 and 22-24 to Esmee Bobner and Zoe Verge-Depre of Switzerland. After starting their campaign in Tuesday’s qualification, the Swiss made it all the way to the gold medal match. However, it was not going to be an all-Swiss final since Alexandra Jupiter and Lezana Placette claimed a 2-0 victory (21-8, 25-23) in their semifinal with Nicole Eiholzer and Elena Steinemann.
Lusson and Longuet put up a real fight in the bronze medal match and easily won the second set, but Eiholzer/Steinemann eventually pulled out a 2-1 victory (22-20, 14-21, 15-6) to secure the third place.
Lezana Placette (left) and Alexandra Jupiter celebrate on Saturday
The final was a real delight for the crowd in attendance and a very close fight from start to end. However, Jupiter’s blocks contributed to a 2-1 (21-15, 12-21, 15-12) victory for her and Placette and the French team could triumph with the gold medals, while Bobner and Verge-Depre had to be content with the silver. Jupiter and Placette could start in the best way the qualification process towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. “We are very proud of having performed this way in front of our home audience,” they said. “With this medal, we have shown that we truly belong to the programme designed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We have to continue this way and claim more wins in the next stops of the World Tour.”
In the men’s semis, home favourites Youssef Krou and Quincy Aye came from behind and made up for a slow start to edge their young Swiss opponents Florian Breer and Yves Haussener 2-1 (15-21, 21-19, 15-10). The other semifinal was a French derby that lasted for three sets as well. It was a close match all the way until underdogs Edouard Rowlandson/Olivier Barthelemy edged last week’s gold medal winners in Siofok Romain Di Giantommaso and Jeremy Silvestre 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-10). “We start every match as relaxed as we can,” Rowlandson commented. “The most important for us is to have fun as long as we stay on the court. We will keep this very same mind-set because there is nothing as rewarding as playing the final of an international tournament.”
Di Giantommaso/Silvestre regrouped in the bronze medal match where they wasted as many as six match points in the second set but they ultimately beat Breer/Haussener 2-1 (21-16, 25-27, 15-10) to secure their second World Tour medal in as many weeks. This way Di Giantommaso and Silvestre secured a complete French sweep of the men’s podium.
Many fans attended the all-French men’s final where Rowlandson and Barthélémy stormed to a landslide 2-0 (21-15, 21-12) victory as Krou and Aye could not find any response to the superb defence game of their opponents. This is a truly outstanding result for Rowlandson who crowned his comeback to the international scene after two years with a gold medal!