France returns to the top of the table in the 2022 men’s Volleyball Nations League. This after producing a 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-21) win over defending champions Brazil on Friday. The Olympic champions now lead the four teams, each with an 8-2 win-loss record. And three by 25 points, separated by a set ratio. Brazil is one of six teams to have secured their place in the Finals in Bologna from 20 to 24 July. They are sixth in the table with 7-4 and 21 points.

France dominated in all elements of scoring. There were plenty of spectacular serves on both sides of the goal to keep the crowd entertained. And earns valuable break points in court battles. France beat Brazil by 11 points straight to five. Their opponent Jean Patry contributed three of them towards a game-high 19 points. But as many as six French players signed with aces to their name. Coach Andrea Giani’s squad also shows a high success rate of 60% in attacks to bring down their mighty opponents.

This made things difficult for them by making very few mistakes themselves (only nine in the game!). Patry announced his presence early in the first set when he jumped to level the score at 1-1. And then gave France the first lead at 2-1, before outside bat Yacine Louati extended it to 3-1 with a monster block. Brazilian opponent Darlan Souza reacted quickly and scored from the service line to equalize at 4-4.  The Europeans then rampaged six points. This included two aces by center blocker Nicolas Le Goff, to open up a 10-4 margin.

Great Performance by Antoine Brizard

Fans in the stands praised the superb performance of French setter Antoine Brizard. Yang ran to save the ball on the other side of the net and then came back to finish the rally with a solo block for 16-10. Brazil, who made no mistakes of their own throughout this set, tried to stay on the defensive. And narrowed the gap to 20-16 with an ace from outside Adriano Cavalcante and to 21-18 with another ace from the middle of Isac Santos. However, French spikers and blockers dominated the net. Finally, a spectacular rally.

Where Brazil got the first two strong blows by France, ending with a kill through the middle by Barthelemy Chinenyeze for 25-21. Isac was the first to provide an ace in the second set to lead Brazil 2-0. But French star Earvin Ngapeth quickly reset the balance to kill the flyover for 2-2. Two consecutive aces by Patry put France 10-9 ahead, but then he made two consecutive mistakes to return the lead to Brazil.

The end is near

Yang added two points in a row to advance with a 13-10 lead. France needed three break points to regain control. And they grabbed it with another three aces, by Ngapeth for 17-16, by Chinenyeze for 18-18, and by Brizard for a 23-22 lead. Then, Patry’s successful swing brought the set point and Ngapeth threw it to 25-22. Louati scored the first break point of the third set straight from the service line for a 3-1 lead. Brazil’s Flavio Gualberto reacted the same way to level it 6-6. After 8-8, the European team started to build on the lead. Two more aces, by Ngapeth (for 15-12) and by Louati helped extend it to 21-16. Finally, Patry closed the game with a cross-court kill for the 25-21 winner.

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