Earvin Ngapeth (FRA)

(Photo: CEV)

As Olympic champions France prepare to take on the Czech Republic at the CEV EuroVolley 2021 on Monday evening, star outside hitter Earvin Ngapeth says he is enjoying the final matches of the international season.

France won their four matches in Pool D in Tallinn to begin their journey in the continental tournament. Coach Bernardo Rezende's men began their campaign with a 3-0 victory against Slovakia before wins against Croatia, Germany, Latvia and pool hosts Estonia. They now play in Ostrava against the Czechs in the first knockout round of the competition.

"I feel good," Ngapeth told the French Volleyball Federation website. "Things are going super well with the new coaching staff. I think we all feel the same - we are enjoying things a lot. We know it's important to get a good result at the European Championship, but we have already had a successful summer. What we achieve here is a bonus. If we get to play for a medal, that will be great, but we know that we will only be able to do so if we keep smiling and enjoying ourselves on the court.

"There are four matches still to play. We need to continue playing the way we have so far. The end of the summer is approaching, and after that we will not see each other for six months. We should make the most of these final moments together."

Speaking about the team's new coach Bernardo Rezende, Ngapeth said: "I am very close to his son, Bruno. So when Bernardinho came to Modena, which was quite often (both players will play for the Italian club again this season), we used to meet and were able to talk. I didn't know him as a coach, but knew his reputation in the world of volleyball. He is really the best person we could have as a coach after the departure of Laurent (Tillie). To keep things going, we needed someone with a reputation, with charisma, who wins. The goal is to prepare the Games in Paris. He has won them, he knows what it is like to play a Games in your own country. It was the best thing that could happen to us. Even if we have not had much rest after the Olympics, we were keen to start with him. It's really great for the team to have a coach like him.

Whatever the outcome of their match against the Czech Republic on Monday, the club season is just around the corner and Ngapeth will be returning to Modena after spending three seasons with Zenit Kazan.

"I will be in Modena just five days after the Euro! It means I will have almost no holidays. I spoke with coach Andrea Giani in Tallinn, who also trains Germany, and we will start slowly. But I will need to be in Modena quickly. I am looking forward to returning after three years in Kazan, to seeing everyone again. My brother Swan is at the club, my children and wife have arrived. Returning to the club will be a real pleasure. With a super team and great staff, it will be emotional to see the fans and president again. Modena are one big family!"

Talking about his three-season experience in Russia, Ngapeth added: "It is important in a career to be able to say that you have worn the Kazan jersey, to be able to say that you have done that. Kazan are a very high level club who have achieved great things. Even if we did not win all the titles I was hoping for, it will remain a great experience."