Les Bleues paid the bill at a high price during the Nations League

Les Bleues paid the bill at a high price during the Nations League
Les Bleues paid the bill at a high price during the Nations League

The return trip to France (around thirty hours), via Hong Kong, promises to be as heavy as the bills paid to the world’s elite over the past month. The French team leaves Japan and Kytakyushu, on the island of Kyushu, in the southwest of the archipelago, on Sunday, more aware of the realities of the very high level.

Not that she had any illusions about her ability to enter the Final 8 of the Nations League for her first participation. But the sets often went by at high speed and in the wrong direction. Between Antalya (Turkey) and Fukuoka (Japan), via Macao (China), the Blues (15th in the world at the start of the VNL, 19th after the event) lost ten matches out of twelve, including eight in a expeditious (0-3).

“There are some disappointments like this defeat against South Korea. There are interesting things like the entry of young people who have brought to the group”

Héléna Cazaute, captain of the Bleues

They battled against Thailand (14th) and South Korea (34th) for defeats in the tie-break and dominated Bulgaria (23rd, 3-1) and a Serbia without its Olympic backbone (3-1). In terms of the world hierarchy, Héléna Cazaute’s partners only really experienced a poor performance against Korea on Thursday. Worn by their captain returning after the start of the competition piano (knee), they nevertheless led two sets to one. But the return to the bench of Cazaute, whose playing time was spared, got the better of the French advance.

Yes there are some disappointments like this defeat against Korea which weighed. The results are quite mixed, mentally it is not easy to collect defeats, the road is still long at world level », notes the French number 1 (26 years old). “ There are interesting things like the entry of young people who have contributed well to the group », she moderates.

“We have a month to work on certain points in order to resist the big teams”

Héléna Cazaute, captain of the Bleues

And negative things like the service, which was a strong point but was less efficient. We measure the margin for progress. We have a month to work on certain points in order to resist the big teams up to 25-22 rather than up to 12 and manage to grab a set as we could have done against the USA (defeat 25-15, 26-24, 25-20).

The specificity of the event, with no direct challenge this year since the relegations are frozen before the transition from 16 to 18 nations in 2025, made it possible to integrate three young talents. The sharp Iman Ndiaye (22 years old) and the receiver-attacker Maeva Schalk (18 years old) were even rather successful and applied for the Olympic team which will be reduced to twelve elements (and one substitute) while the central Fatou Fanguedou (20 years) has taken date.

The Olympic program known on June 19, courses in Bordeaux and Laval

Iman replaced Lulu really well (Gicquel), Maeva was very present in Türkiye during the first week. In training, they don’t give up and they’re crazy », rejoices Héléna Cazaute.

After a week of rest, the players of coach Emile Rousseaux will find themselves at fourteen or fifteen in training in Bordeaux (June 25-July 4) then in Laval (July 8-14) where they will face the Dominican Republic (on the 13th) which they will meet again in Poland (July 14-20) during a final tournament with the Poles and Serbia. They will know their Olympic program on Wednesday June 19, date of the draw for the first phase of the Olympics (three groups of four).

And will then fully appreciate the task that awaits them at the Arena Sud in Paris (Porte de Versailles) from July 28. “ With all the regrets we leave here (in Japan), we want to go into battle. At the Games, mentally, we will be ready », assures the captain.

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