Montreux, Switzerland, June 10, 2017- Germany overcame a one-set deficit in the first of the semi-finals of the 2017 Montreux Volley Masters against Argentina to advance to Sunday’s grand final courtesy of a 1-3 (27-25, 19-25, 25-27, 19-25) victory. Louisa Lippmann and Jennifer Geerties held all the aces in a thrilling semi-final, weaving their magic with a 38-point return to beat the Argentines, who before the semi-final were the only team at this year’s competition still to beaten.
A place in the final at stake and an even matchup expected, the first set started in thrilling fashion, Argentina claiming the lead but an exquisite Louisa Lippmann spike drawing the Germans level. The spiking game was the weapon of choice for both sides, Nizetich’s powerful hit epitomising the way Argentina would look to negotiate this game. The Germans, cool and efficient, were edging the set 6-8, and an exchange of points followed before Emilce Sosa made a great block at the net to pull Argentina back to 8-10. Lippmann and Rodríguez were the danger players for either side, their influence evident as both sides motored away in a pulsating set to a 22-22 deadlock. Both teams inseparable, it was the Europeans who looked like they may just clinch the set, edging to the first set-point at 24-25. Responding as they have so often throughout the tournament so far, Argentina struck level with an Emila Rodríguez kill, before registering again to go onto set-point themselves. Leonie Schwertmann hit a great kill point to restore parity, before Argentina replied, a Sosa spike claiming the set 27-25 to put Las Panteras in the driving seat toward the final.
The second set began in equally even fashion, both teams at an early 4-4 stalemate. With Argentina having responded well to going behind in the first, Germany edged ahead in the second 5-8 with some hard work and great communication, as they looked to reply to going behind. Lippmann was dangerous as ever, as was Jennifer Geerties, who hit seven points throughout the set as Germany upped the ante to gain a 16-20 lead. From there, they weren’t to be stopped, two wonderful smash kills from the razor sharp Lippmann sealing a 19-25 second set win to put Germany back on terms.
Buoyed by their success in the second set, Germany seemed to have found their rhythm and set about building their lead, maintaining a four point cushion through the set, first at 4-8, and later at 10-14. Though Las Panteras were unwilling to let this semi-final slip away from them, and they rallied to a 15-15 stalemate, Rodríguez and Nizetich spiking them to parity, before they turned the set on its head to lead 18-17. The onus was then on the Germans to respond, and Lippmann duly obliged with a wonderful spike to level the set once more. A stunning exchange of points followed, the set at 22-22, but Germany carved their way through, Lena Stigrot rising on the big occasion to spike Germany ahead at 24-25. From there they clinched a nail-biting set 25-27 to go ahead, and one successful set from a place in the final.
The Germans resolved to finish the game in four sets in spite of the stature of their opponents, and they opened a 6-8 lead with some excellent play, the quartet of Geerties, Lippmann, Maren Brinker and Marie Schoelzel influential and effective against Argentina’s high-scoring trio of Nizetich, Rodríguez and Sosa, driving the Europeans toward a 10-17 lead. Las Panteras remained defiant, however, Sosa with a spike and crucial block to give the Argentines some hope of a comeback at 17-22, but the Germans had the cushion they needed, and with a spot in the final and a shot at gold in their grasp, they weren’t to be foiled at the last. Lessons learnt from Friday’s defeat to Poland, Germany were composed and professional over the final few rallies, Brinker’s deft touch over the net sealing match point at 19-25, and clinching a 1:3 victory. Argentina, prior to the match the only unbeaten team in the competition, will contest the bronze medal match, whilst Germany advance to the final, where the winners of the second semi-final between Brazil and China lie in wait.