Brazil gained the right to defend their crown in gold medal match following a close victory over France
Katowice, Poland, September 20, 2014 – Three-time defending champions Brazil advanced to the gold medal match of the 2014 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship after scoring a thrilling 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-12) victory over a fiery France in the first semifinal encounter played in front of a full crowd at Spodek Arena on Saturday.
The No 1 world-ranked Brazilians have previously reached the world championship final four times including the last three editions which they all went to win. In 1982 they lost in the final to the Soviet Union.
Brazil’s Ricardo Lucarelli Santos was the top scorer of the match with 22 points, including four blocks. Wallace Souza followed with 17 while Lucas Saatkamp and Sidnei Dos Santos added 16 and 13, respectively.
France’s Earvin Ngapeth finished with 21 points in the losing effort while Kevin Tillie (13), Mory Sidibe (11) and Kevin Le Roux (10) also finished with double digits in the charts.
•Brazil scored via seven blocks in the first set
• France’s three losses in the tournament have been by 3-2
• First match between these two teams that goes to the five-set limit
Saatkamp landed 16 of 28 spikes for a 63.6 average while Souza was effective in the 57.1 % of his killing attempts scoring 16 from 28 swings.
Coming into the court very focused, both teams knew what was at stake in the clash. They started a fierce battle from both sides of the court. With Lucarelli and Sidão’s fine block, Brazil gained the leading at the very beginning of the first set (1-0) and kept it as Sidão and Wallace displayed efficient spikes (6-3). Making a use of opponent’s problem with building defence and playing first attacks, Brazil increased their advantage to seven points (16-9) at the second technical timeout. France couldn’t find the right answer to Brazil’s kills and single trials by Antonin Rouzier or Kevin Le Roux and Mory Sidibe’s block were not enough. At 21-14, fine serve series by Earvin Ngapeth reduced Brazil’s lead to four points (21-17). However, the defending champions finished the first set 25-18, making a use of their first set ball.
The second set saw a great performance by Earvin Ngapeth. At the beginning, France managed to gain a 2-1 lead after Rouzier’s and Ngapeth’s spikes and kept the margin due to good plays of Kevin Tillie and a fine dink by Benjamin Toniutti. Staying focused and behind Kevin Le Roux’s two kills in a row, France extended their gap to five points (11-6). Additionally, France’s block worked well and three-coloured opposites did their best to force the world No. 1. ranked Canarinhos. However, Brazil started the chase and after a fine triple block displayed by Sidão, Lucarelli and Vissotto, they reduced the distance to three points (14-11). After Vissotto’s right-wing kill followed by France’s mistake, the distance was only one point (17-16). Two aces in a row by Felipe Fonteles helped them with keeping touch (20-19). The exciting second set finished 5-23 for France, after Souza’s spike went out of bounds.
After ten-minutes break, France managed to gain 2-0 lead at the beginning of the third set. The action was played on a point-by-point basis and none of the teams could gain some comfortable leading. With spikes by Murilo and Lucas of Brazil and Kevin Tillie of France, the scoreboard showed 7-7 and a fierce attack by Mory Sidibe put France 8-7 ahead at the first technical timeout. Both teams played with a great devotion in defence which helped to produce efficient counter-attacks and made the game tough and balanced. Brazil with powerful Lucas managed to jump 14-13 ahead. After fine Nicolas Le Goff’s block on Lucarelli followed by Sidibe’s spike, France went 18-17 ahead and forced Bernardo Rezende to call timeout. This break helped his team to regain focus as they managed to jumped 23-21 ahead and finished the third set 25-23.
As it was in the previous sets, the fourth one began with balanced game. Hard spikes from both sides of the court, preceded by well passing were sometimes interrupted by technical mistakes. However, the scoreboard showed an even (4-4). After fine Kevin Tillie’s spike, followed by two Brazil’s errors, France jumped 7-4 ahead and kept the advantage at the first technical timeout (8-6). With Wallace’s spikes and some trials of playing efficient counter-attacks, Brazil wanted to catch up, but Sidibe’s kills prevented them from making a step forward till 12-11, when they finally found a way to gain the lead. Fine double block by France, followed by Kevin Le Roux’s ace pushed France 14-13 ahead, but they floundered the advance and they were Brazil, who led 16-15 at the second technical timeout. However, with great playing by Ngapeth and aggressive serves by Le Goff, France regained two-points leading (19-17). Extending their leading, Laurent Tillie’s players finished the fourth set 25-23 to open the way for a tie-break.
The final part of the mach, which decided the promotion to the great final was opened with Lucas’s kill. A quick answer by Ngapeth made the score even, but after Sidão’s spike, Brazil jumped at 4-2. France answered with Nicolas Marechal’s and Nicolas Le Goff’s spike what helped them with catching up at 6-6. As Brazil led 8-7 during changing sides, they put some pressure on France and with well-built defence (Lucarelli’s block), extended the leading to three points (11-8). During the fifth set’s ending, Brazil claimed their advance, winning 15-12 to book the ticket to the final.