Montreux, Switzerland, September 8, 2018- Montreux Masters debutants Cameroon came from behind twice in their classification match to beat host-nation Switzerland 3:2 (18-25, 25-20, 11-25, 28-26, 15-1) after a tie-break, making history as the first African nation to win at the competition.
Laetitia Crescence Moma Bassako led the way with 18 points, whilst Stephanie Fotso Mogoung and Christelle Tchoudjang Nana also put in sterling performances, but this display from Cameroon finally yielded the reward their positivity at the tournament deserved, as their never-say-die attitude helped them twice overhaul the deficit and come away with a memorable victory to bow out of Montreux on a high.
Despite a bright start by Cameroon, registering the opening two points, it took little time for the hosts to seize control of proceedings with up and coming starlet Karina Perkovac influential as the Swiss strolled into a 7-12 lead mid-set. Two neat spikes by the dangerous Laura Kunzler and Middle Blocker Gabi Schottroff took the set to 10-16 in favour of the Swiss, before Christelle Tchoudjang Nana hit a fine spike to kickstart some brief African resistance. As Switzerland kept their advantage ticking over to set point at 15-24, it took them five attempts to score the decisive point, Matter killing the ball down the centre of the court for an 18-25 opening set win, their first at this year’s tournament.
The second set saw the Swiss attempt to pull clear early as they edged into a lead, but Cameroon brilliantly responded as a Laetitia Crescence Moma Bassako spike and block helped the African champions level it up at 9-9, before she rose in a double block with Stephanie Fotso Mogoung to thwart the Swiss spike and edge Cameroon into a 10-9 lead. Despite stern Swiss resistance, Cameroon, backed by a contingent in the crowd, kept plugging away, Thays Deprati butchering a simple reception before a Tchoudjang Nana spike put the African champions at 23-18. A neat touch down over the net from Henriette Nadege Koula had the Indomitable Lionesses at their first set point of the competition, and finally at the third attempt, a long Swiss serve landed out of play for a 25-20 set win for Cameroon, the first ever for an African team in the 33-year history of the Montreux Masters.
Infuriated by the concession of a set, the Swiss set about stamping their authority back on the game and raced into a 4-13 lead, aided by the excellent Perkovac and two Maja Storck blocks. Cameroon Libero Victoire Pauline L’Or Ngon Ntame made a hash of a Gabi Schottroff serve for a Swiss ace, before Madlaina Matter struck with two spikes for Switzerland to lead 7-20. It was Samira Sulser who stepped up to help wrap up an emphatic set for the hosts, hitting the next three Swiss points with an intelligent touch over the net, a big block to deny Moma Bassako, and a spike to put the Europeans at set point, 11-24. The set was killed at the first attempt after a reception error from Cameroon, Switzerland reclaiming the overall lead 1:2 (11-25).
Cameroon started the fourth set the stronger as they looked to respond, but Switzerland still posed a threat through the lively Matter and Méline Pierret, countering the efforts of Moma Bassako to haul back the lead to 12-14. Some excellent rally play ensued as the Swiss maintained a 13-16 lead, with Deprati and Pierret making excellent defensive interventions whilst Maja Storck’s spiking still threatened. But after Storck botched a reception, Cameroon mounted a stunning comeback, Djakao scoring as they roared into a 24-23 lead. Perkovac saved the Swiss at set point, and again after a Staffelbach serve was long, before Matter blocked to put the hosts at a remarkable match point. Cries of Hopp Schwiiz erupted around the court, but Cameroon denied the crowd the point they wanted, Aboa rising to block before Fotso Mogoung touched down for set-point Cameroon once more. Moma Bassako rose to do the damage, touching over off the net for 28-26 to send the match the distance; a tie-break. 2:2.
With all the momentum, Cameroon pushed to complete the comeback, racing into a 9-1 lead, the bright Fotso Mogoung and Aboa scoring before a big block from Abdoulkarim Fawziya. Fotso Mogung came up with a big block of her own to deny Storck for 11-1 as the hosts wilted under pressure, a smash from the blue from Cameroon taking the score to 12-1 before they went within one of victory when two attempted spikes flew out of play. Aboa serving for victory, the Swiss made the decisive reception error, sparking celebrations from the Cameroon bench as they sealed the first win at the Montreux Masters for an African nation, with a stunning 15-1 tie-break win (3:2).