It weren’t enough 13 aces and a comeback from 0-2 up to lead 7:4 at the tie-break for Chaumont to defeat the favorite Tours in Game 1 of finals.
Tours respond by placing a counterbreak of 2:9 (from 7:4 to 9:13) and by winning away Game 1 at the tie-break they put a mortgage on the championship: they now have two opportunities, both at home, to close the series and win an eighth league title – on May 10 and, if necessary, on May 11.
Either way, the top seed Tours extended their winning streak in the French top division to 25 games, not suffering a defeat since October 27, 2018! And that loss came exactly to their rivals in the playoff finals, Chaumont. But, regardless of this, Chaumont’s luck in final matches against Tours is really bad as they lost on both occasions when these two met for some trophy: 2017/18 French Championship finals and 2018/19 French Cup final.
In a very balanced first set both teams played with a very high-level in attack: 70% Chaumont and 75% Tours are the numbers, with very few break points. Balance until 21-21 then Winkelmuller’s counterattacks out (21-22), Husaj’s ace (21-23) and Egleskalns who closes at the first opportunity by blocking Atanasov and allow to the guests to close 22-25.
Very different the second set: Tours immediately runs away (1-5), however Chaumont almost impacts on 5-6 with Atanasov’s ace. Still Tours take its 9-13, but Chaumont answers first with a counterattack of Winkelmuller on 11-13 and then with aces: Averill for the 13-14 and then 3 consecutive by Atanasov who brings his team on 19-17. Tours answer is immediate thanks to the Wounembaina turn at service: Trinidad blocks Geiler on 19-19, Chinenyeze closes a prolonged exchange 19-21, Husaj blocks the new entered Patak 19-21, and Wounembaina signs the 19-22. Fernandez signs the 6th ace of Chaumont in this set and this is 21-22, but it was not enough because Tours immediately returns to +3 (21-24) and closes with Husaj (22-25).
Chaumont continues to play strong also in third set, (4 aces in total) and grows with the blocks (5) causing the percentages of attack of the Tours to collapse (35% of team). Everything is therefore easy for the hosts who runs off with an Averill’s ace (14-11) and the 2 consecutive Winkelmuller’s points (17-12): Chaumont closes 25-16.
Fourth set very balanced until 13-12, when Fernandez blocks Chinenyeze (14-12), Wounembaina attacks out (15-12) and Atanasov marks his seventh personal ace (16-12). Great Tours’ comeback: they manages to return to -1 from 16-15, but Teryomenko’s error brings Chaumont back to +3 (20-17). The set reopens again on 22-21, but in the end Chinenyeze serves on the net and this is 25-23 and it’s means tie break.
Tie break, and Chaumont tries to escape with Wounembaina’s error in attack 3-1 and then with a Fernandez’s block on Egleskalns (5-2). However, the reception of Chaumont wobbles: Tours therefore can overtakes with Husaj and Egleskalns in attack (7-8), and on 9-9 for Chaumont this is the end. After a Tours’ negative reception, there is no one to block the precarious attack of Egleskalns: 9-10. Then Atanasov misses a second touch and this is a rigour for the Latvian, who is not wrong: 9-11. Winkelmuller attacks out (9-12), Trinidad puts an ace (9-13), and despite Chaumont shorten the distances until 12-13, in the end Egleskalns signs the 12-14 and at the first match point, Teryomenko blocks Winkelmuller and Tours can celebrate.
Atanasov, with 23 points, 53% in attack and 7 aces is the best for Chaumont, backed by the good performance of the middle-blockers Averill (80% in attack, 2 winning-blocks and 3 aces) and Fernandez, who scored 13 points, 58% in attack, 5 winning-blocks and 1 ace, even if it was the latter to miss the ball that launches the comeback of Tours in the tie-break. Discreet match also for Winkelmuller, author of 18 points and 44%, but he losed direct confrontation with Egleskalns, who was the best on the winning side with 24 points and 50% in attack. Good performances also for Chinenyeze (14 points, 86% in attack and 2 winning-blocks), Teryomenko (11 points, 62% in attack, 1 block and 2 ace) and Husaj (14 points, 53% in attack, 2 blocks and 2 aces), while Wounembaina was far below his standards: 28% in attack and 7 errors in reception, even if he was very effective at service, with some of important breaks.
Finals: GAME 1 (May, 7)
Chaumont – Tours 2-3 (22:25, 22:25, 25:16, 25:23, 12:15)
Chaumont: Saeta 3, B. Geiler 7, Averill 13, Winkelmuller 18, Atanasov 23, Fernandez 13, Bann (L); Ben Tara 1, M. Patak 0. N.E.: Repak, K. Rodriguez, Morillon. Coach: Prandi.
Tours: Trinidad De Haro 2, Husaj 14, Teryomenko 11, Egleskalns 24, Wounembaina 6, Chinenyeze 14, Henno (L); Van Rekom 1, Capet 1. N.E.: Nevot, Stahl, Nicole. Coach: Duflos.
GAME 2 (May 10)
Tours-Chaumont 20.45 CET
Eventual Game 3 (May 11)
Tours-Chaumont 20.45 CET
Photos via Facebook: Chaumont Volley-Ball 52 Haute-Marne