Olympic volleyball final: the Blues did it

Tokyo Olympic Games 2020case

Never left a phase of pool in an Olympic tournament, the French volleyball team won the gold medal on Saturday against Russia. The fulfillment of an obsession carried by their coach, Laurent Tillie, whose term ends in Tokyo.

It’s a page of history. It is also a story of survivors. The volleyball players of the France team offered their sport on Saturday at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo its first Olympic gold medal by dominating Russia in five sets (25 – 23 24 – 15 21 – 24 22 – 25 13 – 11). Came back out of nowhere, hard. In apotheosis of a badly embarked Olympic tournament and an adventure that could have come to an end before even starting.

The gold medal of the volleyball players is the ninth stored in the safe of the French delegation in Tokyo, the 31 e in total all metal combined. After the gold of the handball players , basketball players ‘money and basketball players’ bronze , it also confirms the brilliant form of French indoor co-sports while the handball players will in turn chase a gold medal against Russia on Sunday

“It’s a beautiful fairy tale and I hope they remember, soon their first training, saying: ‘we dream of the Olympics’. And to win the Olympics, you have to think about it every day. This path, this idea of ​​always thinking about it, I think it counted in the end. You also had to be patient, you had to have very talented players and today it was a team, not just talented players, it was a team that was monstrous ”, summarizes on France Télévisions Laurent Tillie, who coached his last match on Saturday at the end of ” a nine-year term at the head of the French selection . “You just have to keep perseverance, resilience and believe in it.”

Blue Mountains, Roller Coaster As in the group stage, the 27 July, the Blues cracked the ROC, the acronym of the Russian Olympic Committee which serves as a neutral flag for the Russian athletes present at the Tokyo Games. But we had to hang on and keep our nerves. “It’s a match like our competitor, all the emotions, a lot of tension but we got through it. It was an Olympic final, it could only end like that ”, sums up after the podium the star of the team, the flamboyant Earvin Ngapeth , with monstrous statistics in this final (20 points on 40 attempts, no attacker on either side of the net was as solicited as him in this final).

Earvin Ngapeth in the final against Russia. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)

Things are however badly embarked in the first set, the Russians stand out 21 – 17. But an attack announced bitten and two aces of Antoine Brizard reverse everything. A pair of attacks from Earvin Ngapeth, master of the block-out where the attacker will seek the hands of the opposing counter to get the ball out of the limits, and a furious smash from Trévor Clévenot complete the case (25 – 21).

Russian lift Angry attacks from Jean Patry, Earvin Ngapeth, the brilliant Jenia Grebennikov who multiplies in defense: the Blues quickly take off in the second set. TO 23 – 17, a violent attack by Patry confirmed after a challenge requested by Laurent Tillie offers the Habs seven set points. The first is enough for them ( – 17 in 27 minutes).

In the third set, a defense-attack combo by Maxim Mikhaylov allows the Russians to go ahead (14 – 15). But the blue defense holds the shock and Jean Patry continues his festival. TO 19 – 18, Ngapeth is looking for a new block-out but the three Russian blockers take their hands off. The ball shoots out of the lines. 19 – 18.

On the next action, Ngapeth is countered. 20 – 18 for Russians. Never two without three ? No, this time Ngapeth does not miss it. Yaroslav Podlesnykh’s services hurt, Tillie got it wrong on a challenge, and at 23 – 20 for the Reds, Antoine Brizard takes his risk in the service. Out. The ROC, who took out the Brazilian favorite and defending champion in the semifinals after dropping the first set, remain alive.

The fourth set sees the gang in Ngapeth to detach then the Russians to return under the impulse of Egor Kliuka and Maxim Mikhaylov. To you, to me, the alternation is mathematical. From 8-8, the scoreboard changes to 12 – 13. A heavy strike from Kiuka gives the Russians a two-point lead. An authoritarian bloc of Nicolas Le Goff and the Blues stick together to 15 – 16. Relax. Come back to relax again. 22 – 19 for the Russians in the money-time then 24 – 20 and 24 – 20. We then remember that in London, in 2000, the Russians went for gold after losing the first two sets. The Brazilians even had two match points in the set point.

Unbreathable The tie-break promises to be unbreathable. The Russians take off (6-3) but eat four points in a row. At the end of an action initiated by a vicious service of “ENG”, the French arrogate to themselves a break in advance (04 – 8). Patry serves the lead. His ace, the 8th for the Blues since the start of the final, puts the French on a perfect trajectory (12 – 11) and a malice of Brizard offers two match points to the Habs. It’s finish. Not quite yet, since it is written that we must survive everything. The last Russian attack is given outside. The Blues are exulting. The red staff asks for a challenge. A few seconds of waiting. The arbitration decision is confirmed. The Blues improvise a French cancan, raise their coach in the air.

The joy of the Blues after their victory in the final of the tournament Olympic volleyball on Saturday August 7 against Russia. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)

“There are no words, it’s incredible, I can’t believe it, I think we don’t really realize, I don’t know how to describe the feeling, it’s … (long silence ) Olympic champion, what! ” Jean Patry, at the microphone of France Televisions, has more trouble than when he seeks the diagonal. “Once again we came back a long way, we won the first two , we thought that all was lost [quand les Russes ont recollé à deux sets partout, ndlr] and in the end, we hang on as we have been doing from the start and we release a good tie-break. We started badly in the tie-break and we manage to find strength with this team of mad people, crazy people, this big family and we manage to find all together to go and look for the match ”, he continues.

Winners of the League of Nations in 2015 and 2017, third last June, European champions in 2015, the French volleyball players had never managed to reach the quarter-finals of ‘an Olympic tournament. Their entry into the competition was bumpy with a defeat against the United States then Argentina before a qualification in extremis thanks to two sets snatched from the Brazilians on the last day of the group stage. “In this tournament, we are survivors” , Earvin Ngapeth noted in the logbook which he considers to be Freed before the Homeric quarter-final against the Poles .

Survival mode even started long before. At the Berlin Olympic Qualifying Tournament, in January 2019, the Blues are led two sets to zero in the semifinals by Slovenia before overturning the table and stamping their ticket for Tokyo. A story of survivors.

Throughout the adventure of French volleyball players Here in Tokyo, Earvin Ngapeth, the receptionist-attacker of the French volleyball team, opened his logbook to “Libé”

Update To 18 hours with statements, context.

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