WVCC2023 - UKRvsFRA_06

French players celebrate their semifinal victory over Ukraine

The Volleyball Nations League 2024 will have another European women’s national team among its participants as France and Sweden are set to collide for the last available spot in the tournament on Sunday, in Laval.

The two teams advanced to the gold medal match of the FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup 2023, which will qualify its winners for the VNL 2024, and will fight for the title at the Espace Mayenne on Sunday at 17:00 local time (15:00 UTC). Earlier, at 13:00 local time (11:30 UTC), Ukraine and Colombia will play for bronze.

  • Watch Volleyball Challenger Cup 2023 live on VBTV

Playing at home, France maintained the dominant form they displayed in their opening match against Vietnam, on Thursday, in Saturday’s semifinal and topped European rivals Ukraine with an emphatic 3-0 (25-10, 25-20, 25-22) victory in front of their fans.

The French, who were fifth in the Challenger Cup last year, are now just win one win away from joining their country’s men’s national team in the VNL.

For the second time in the Challenger Cup 2023, opposite Lucille Gicquel was the main offensive player for France, leaving the court with 15 points (12 kills, one ace, two blocks) registered against the Ukrainians. Middle blocker Amandha Sylves also had an excellent match, contributing 13 points with nine kills and four blocks.

“The atmosphere was really magical, I loved it,” Sylves reacted. “From the first point, we just wanted to take advantage of it and have fun and keep rolling. We were determined to get more blocks than we did against Vietnam and that worked very well for us. We didn’t take Ukraine for granted, they just won the CEV Golden League. But I think we played very well and it was an interesting match.”

On the Ukrainian side, team captain and middle blocker Svitlana Dorsman was the only player to get to double digits in scoring – she had ten points, with six kills and four blocks.

Volleyball Challenger Cup – Match Schedule and Results

Sweden weren’t as dominant against Colombia in the second semifinal, but counted on another stellar performance from star opposite Isabelle Haak to defeat the South Americans 3-1 (25-17, 25-17, 22-25, 25-17) and advance.

The 24-year-old Haak, who had fired 33 points against Mexico in the quarterfinals, improved her production to a whooping 41 against Colombia, registering 37 kills, three aces and one block. The Most Valuable Player and top scorer of the 2022 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship, Haak now has 74 points scored across two Challenger Cup matches.

WVCC2023 - SWEvsCOL_09

Haak had another magnificent performance in the Challenger Cup, getting 41 points against Colombia

The Swedish, who are making their debut in the Challenger Cup this season, also got 18 points (12 kills, two aces, four blocks) from Alexandra Lazic and another 13 (ten kills, one ace, two blocks) from fellow outside hitter Anna Haak.

“We did a very good job in defeating Colombia,” head coach Lauri Hakala analyzed. “We had a chance to win in three, but we couldn’t do it. This will our third final in a year and it’s a reward for the hard work everyone puts in. France will play with more pressure than us, so we need to enjoy and try to qualify for the VNL. They are a good team, but we can beat them and will be ready to do it.”

Colombia also had three players scoring in double digits – outside hitter Amanda Coneo (17), opposite Dayana Segovia (12) and outside hitter Ana Karina Olaya (11).

France and Sweden haven’t played each other in nearly ten years, with the most recent encounters having happened at the 2014 European Championship – the French won both matches against the Swedish in the tournament.

Quick links:
Volleyball Challenger Cup 2023
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