Ngapeth faces the Slovenian block

Earvin Ngapeth put on his first Most Valuable Player-caliber performance at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship and helped France win their second-straight match in the tournament on Sunday, while also securing a spot in the Round of 16.

Ngapeth and his teammates faced World Championship co-hosts Slovenia and more than 11,000 of their fans in their second Pool D match in Ljubljana and, after denying their opponents some match points in the fourth set, walked away with a five-set (25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 34-32, 15-7) triumph that silenced the stadium.


The Slovenians had a packed stadium behind them against the Olympic champions

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The Slovenians felt, for a brief moment, the taste of victory as they scored 25-23 in the fourth set after Ngapeth spiked out, but a video challenge review revealed a block touch and reversed the original call, keeping the French in the match.

Besides that critical point, Ngapeth scored another 28 to leave the court with a match-high 29, with 26 kills, two blocks and one ace. Opposite Jean Patry, with 16 points (13 kills, three aces), and middle blocker Barthélémy Chinenyeze, with 15 (13 kills, one block, one ace), were the other French players to score in double digits.


French players celebrate a point

With their second victory in Pool D, the reigning Olympic and Volleyball Nations League champions are already guaranteed a place in the Round of 16 after Germany defeated Cameroon in straight sets (30-28, 25-14, 25-19).

“The stadium was so loud,” French setter Antoine Brizard reflected. “We came into this match knowing it was going to be like this and we enjoyed it. It was a little difficult to deal with during the match, but we managed to stay strong. It has been a perfect start for us so far and we’ll try to finish with the best possible campaign and also remain in a good rhythm ahead of the elimination round.”

Slovenia’s great performance against the French had the team’s ‘Big Three’ - outside hitters Klemen Čebulj and Tine Urnaut and opposite Štern Tonček - delivering to a high level. Čebulj led the team with 18 points (17 kills, one block) while Tonček (15 kills, one block) and Urnaut (13 kills, two blocks, one ace) had 16 each.

The four Pool D teams will be back on the court on Tuesday, August 30, when France will play Cameroon at 17.30 local time (15.30 GMT) and Slovenia will face Germany three hours later.

Besides France, three other teams booked their places for the elimination round on Sunday. Defending champions Poland, who topped Mexico 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-19), and the United States, who defeated Bulgaria also in three sets (25-20, 25-23, 26-24), will occupy the first two spots in Pool C at the conclusion of pool play. The two teams will play each other in Katowice, on Tuesday, at 20.30 local time (18.30 GMT).

In Pool B, Brazil reign supreme after their second victory – a three-set (25-21, 25-18, 25-16) win over Japan. The South Americans end their pool play campaign on Tuesday, against Qatar at 11.00 local time (9.00 GMT).