MANILA, Philippines-France pounced on weary Japan for a 25-22, 27-25, 25-16 victory to stay unbeaten in the Quezon City leg of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jean Patry and Trevor Clevenot delivered the goods as they took down a Japanese side that fielded a different starting unit in front of 9,491 spectators.
Patry dropped 14 points to go with six digs. Clevenot chipped in 10 points, while French libero Benjamin Diez protected the floor with 11 digs and six receptions.
France, the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist, won six of its seven matches, staying unbeaten in three games in the Philippines before it wraps ups its campaign on Sunday against Germany.
French star Earvin Ngapeth also sat out.
“It was a very difficult fight today. I think we played amazing. Japan played amazing on defense so it was difficult to find a solution on our attacks but in the end, we won 3-0 and we were able to take care of three points today,” said Clevenot, who also had seven receptions and four digs.
“We are very good, we are winning. It is important for our confidence,” he added.
Coming off a hard-earned 25-20, 21-25, 24-26, 25-19, 15-13 win over European champion Italy less than 24 hours ago, Japan didn’t start ace spikers Yuji Nishida and Yuki Ishikawa, while crowd darling Ran Takahashi was designated as libero.
The different set of starters still pushed the World No.3 France to its limits in the first two sets only for the French to fend off Japan’s gallant stand to take a 2-0 lead before pulling away in the third with a 17-9 spread.
Tatsunori Otsuka led the Japanese with 15 points, while Kenta Takanashi tallied 13 points and six digs.
Japan suffered its first loss on Philippine soil and second setback in seven games.
“I usually play outside hitter but today, I play opposite. It’s difficult. I just applied our training as opposite,” said Tastunori regarding the switch on his spiking position against the French.