France wiped Slovenia 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-19) in just an hour and a half to claim the bronze medal of the 2021 FIVB Men's Volleyball Nations League on Sunday, closing day of the competition at Italy's Adriatic resort of Rimini.
Solid France snatch bronze from Slovenia in Men's VNL for second podium appearance
Pressure with service, grand blocking, efficient attack give France the edge over the rookies
Published 11:21, 27 Jun 2021
It is the second medal for France at the VNL, after their silver when they lost to Russia in the final of the inaugural edition in 2018.
France pressed with their service and Slovenia were unable to react as they so brilliantly have managed to do throughout pool play in the month-long tournament.
And everything else fell into place for France, who delivered five straight aces, produced an overall 59% attacking efficiency and stuffed their opponents 11 times in just three sets.
Earvin Ngpeth was more like during his better days and emerged with the match high on 18 points (and an enviable 14/17 for 83% attack - a vast improvement over his performance in the semifinal against Brazil a day earlier) which included three aces.
Antoine Brizard and Nicolas Le Goff registered three blocks each as France outblocked Slovenia 11 to 6.
France pulled away early in the first set and remained in the lead throughout - their attack at 61% (14/23) in this set alone, as Slovenia struggled to get around, through or over the block.
And the pressure from the French serving kept coming, even further facilitating the blockers. In fact the only time Slovenia led in the first two sets was at 1-2 and 5-6 in the second.
France remained in absolute control of the score throughout and kept widening the gap until Ngapeth dealt the final blow with his second ace of the game, on libero Jani Kovacic.
Slovenia did try and react in the third, carrying an early lead into the second technical timeout. But back-to-back kills by Boyer got France level at 18-18 and a 6-0 run with Ngapeth serving against a helpless Slovenia brought the match to an end.
It was a huge achievement from a French side that had faltered throughout pool play - and actually only made it through to the Final Four last-minute and on the closest of margins. But despite their problems, they proved that they remain a force to be reckoned with as they prepare to head for the Tokyo Olympics.
On the other hand it was a sad ending to an incredible journey by VNL rookies Slovenia who absolutely delighted their fans throughout the month-long tournament and should surely be proud to have been in the top four - even if a medal eluded them.