In the first 25 years of the FIVB World League, France only finished in the top 3 once. With a win over Canada on Friday, they’ve assured themselves of a 3rd-straight top 3 finish.
France def. Canada 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 25-21)
France has earned a trip back to the World League Finals gold medal match, attempting to recapture the crown that they last won in 2015. They will advance to play the host country Brazil who earlier in the day defeated the United States in 4 sets. Behind strong all-around play led by setter Benjamin Toniutti, France defeated an upstart group from Canada that advanced to the first World League finals in their history. The final score was 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-19 and 25-21).
“It was a really hard game because Canada is playing really good volleyball,” Toniutti said. “We know it was our goal to play the final in this beautiful stadium in Brazil.”
France controlled the first set rolling to a 25-19 victory behind the strong play of Earvin Ngapeth. Ngapeth, who missed almost all of the preliminary round matches recovering from a previous injury, controlled play both at the net, as well as on the defensive side of the ball totalling 24 points on the night.
France appeared to be in control early in the second set as well until a 4-0 run put Canada in the lead midway through the set. At the second technical time out of the set #2, Canada led 16-13. A huge double block on Ngapeth by the Canadians brought up a set point before wing spiker Ryley Barnes finished the set tooling the outside block.
In the third set, France started strong with Stephen Boyer racking up 3 early kills as the French built some early separation. Boyer finished the match with 16 points. At 16-13, Ngapeth crashed over the barrier surrounding the court in an attempt to save a stray dig. He ended the long rally with a cross-court cut shot and France finished the set on a kill from Trevor Clevenot.
The fourth and final set belonged to the French who closed out the match on a missed serve from Sharone Vernon-Evans.
John Gordon Perrin led Canada with 15 points while Vernon-Evans chipped in 14 points. Canada will face the United States in the Bronze Medal match.
“I think, before the competition, everybody wants to see this final”, Toniutti added. “I think it will be a really nice final but now we are really happy and we will enjoy this final tonight and be ready for the game tomorrow.”
Canada will play the United States in the bronze medal game on Saturday.