Tokyo Olympics: A French revolution in men’s volleyball

France beat the Russian Olympic Committee in a thrilling five-setter that went on for two hours and 15 minutes.

French players celebrate after defeating ROC in the Men's Volleyball Gold Medal Match at Tokyo Olympics.   -  Getty Images

The Frenchmen made history on Saturday. And they did it in great style.

In the 57 year-history of volleyball at the Olympics, France had never won a medal. But on Saturday at Tokyo’s Areka Arena, it won the gold in men’s volleyball after defeating the Russian Olympic Committee in a thrilling five-setter.

France won 25-23, 25-17, 21-25, 21-25, 15-12 in two hours and 15 minutes. If the Frenchmen thought they could have wrapped it up in three sets, after winning the first two, they could have been forgiven.

Successive aces from Antoine Brizard helped them come back from 18-22 down to go 23-22 up in the opening set. The Russians, on the other hand were making too many service errors. They, however, came back to take the third and fourth sets, thanks in no small measure to some superb spiking by Egor Kliuka.

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In the deciding set, the ROC took an early 3-0 lead, but Earvin Ngapeth and Jean Patry attacked with vigour to bring the French back into the match. A brilliant drop from Brizard gave them the match point. It was all over with Maxim Mikhaylov’s smash going wide.

He was still the ROC’s top-scorer with 21 points. Kliuka scored 20 and Ivan Iakovlev 10.
For France, Ngapeth was the leading scorer with 26 points, followed by Patry (15), Trevor Clevenot (11) and Nicolas le Goff (nine).

Earlier, Argentina took the bronze, beating defending champion Brazil 25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-13.


The results:

Final: France bt ROC 25-23, 25-17, 21-25, 21-25, 15-12

Bronze Medal Match: Argentina bt Brazil 25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-13

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