Montreux, Switzerland, June 9, 2017- Day 3 of the 32nd Montreux Volley Masters proved to be one of epic proportions, with Thailand and China the victims of major upsets at the hands of Germany and Argentina respectively, after the Netherlands finally got off the mark with victory over Switzerland. Yet, as much as the day’s winners might aspire towards a Montreux medal, for all three the 2017 tournament is expected to be the start of something special, rather than the culmination of their achievements as a team.
One young star expected to make a future impression is 19-year-old Netherlands Middle Blocker Tessa Polder, who scored 18 points in the win over Switzerland, and it certainly felt good to taste victory having come up short in their first two matches.
“I think the game went really well and it feels nice to finally win”, Polder said in a post-match interview. “To lose twice over five sets was tough, we played late over two games so it was nice to get a victory”.
The Netherlands hopes of reaching the semi-finals are slim, with the Dutch needing Switzerland to defeat Argentina within four sets to send the Dutch through. Despite this, Polder was insistent that for her and her team, this year has been all about the learning curve rather than glory, and they will seek to end their campaign on a high.
“We’ve learnt a lot, and that was our goal in coming here”, she said. “We have a lot of young players so the main goal is to try to learn by playing with each other, and I think we are doing that”.
Germany are another side hopeful for the future, but managing to excel in the here and now. Two remarkable opening victories have them on the brink of a semi-final place, and after the win over silver medal holders Thailand, Middle Blocker Marie Schölzel discussed how her team are currently concentrated on their team chemistry, in the hope that it can prove a recipe for success in the future.
“We’re mostly concentrating on growing together as a team”, she said. “We have some more experienced players which helps, and I think the combination between the younger and older players is good for us”.
“We are concentrating on the here and now, but sometimes you can’t help but think this could be something for the future.”
Schölzel also mentioned how Montreux offers an opportunity for her team to bond by enjoying themselves on court, having already successfully qualified for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in Japan before arriving at Lac Léman.
“We’re in a good place at the moment”, she explained. “We played our biggest games last week, now we can play without pressure here. We just go out there, give everything we can, and it is working”.
For Argentina, conquerors of reigning Olympic and Montreux Masters champions China, this year is the next step on a journey that began in 2016 with their participation in the Olympic Games, according to Middle Blocker, Emilce Sosa.
“For us qualifying for the Olympics last year was the starting point”, Sosa said. “To achieve that and then come here is a great advert for the game in Argentina and for every aspiring player for the national team”.
Despite the future being bright, Sosa was keen to emphasise that this should not hinder their ambitions in the present at an ‘important’ tournament for them. They’ve already made an impression beating the Dutch and China, a feat which Sosa described as ‘incredible’.
“For us this victory over China is incredible, because we came here with a lot of players featuring in the national team for the first time”, she said. “It was difficult because we made a lot of errors, but in the final set our defence gave everything and we showed that we can improve”.
“We are going to go into the final game focused against Switzerland. We want to finish top of the pool, and then hopefully go as far as we can in this competition.”