Montreux, Switzerland, June 9, 2017- Las Panteras sailed into the semi-finals with minimal fuss with an impressive 3-0 (21-25, 21-25, 20-25) straight set victory over Switzerland, a result which sees them top Pool A ahead of China; a date with Germany lying in wait in the last-four.
This win was a display of artistry, topping off an impressive pool campaign in some style at their first ever Montreux Masters, and it was owed to the radiance of their impressive quartet of Paula Yamila Nizetich, Lucía Fresco, Emilce Sosa, and Elina Rodríguez, whose 39 point contribution put their plucky hosts to the sword. Though comprehensive on paper, the sets themselves were competitive, and the quartet made the difference with a succession of spikes and blocks where required to see out an even first set 21-25, Libero Tatiana Rizzo occasionally called into action to keep the Swiss at bay.
The edge was always with Argentina, and determined to rubber-stamp their semi-final spot early, they ground out a 16-19 lead, owed much to errors on the part of their hosts. 13 gifted points for Las Panteras made the set academic, with Nizetich and Rodríguez’s further six points enough to help see out the set 21-25.
One foot firmly into the semi-finals, Argentina were out to kill the tie. Despite stern Swiss defiance from Maja Storck and Laura Kunzler, who struck ten points to give the hosts a third set lead at 16-14, there was never any sense that a comeback was in the offing. Argentina responded duly after coach Guillermo Orduna called time-out to remonstrate with his players, and they re-emerged reinvigorated, Sosa and Nizetich leading the charge, before the latter, the captain of this remarkable Argentine side, put the gloss on a sensational group campaign with a fine match point to seal the set and the game 3-0 at 20-25.
What is for sure, is that Orduna’s Argentina have made some impression in their debut year in Montreux, which to the neutral volleyball fan invokes memories of Thailand’s feat in 2016, where they ran out all the way to the final before bowing to China. With the South Americans already having taken the scalp of the defending Olympic and Montreux Masters champions in the pool, they’ve made something of an impression thus far, and few would bet against them on this form replicating Thailand’s feat of reaching the final in their debut campaign, or, perhaps, even going one better.