NATIONS LEAGUE – Les Bleus continue their great run in the Nations League after a new victory, this time against Russia (22-25, 25-18, 30-28, 25-19). Despite the loss of the first set, Ervin Ngapeth and his partners have mastered the tenacious Russians, and keep the first place in the ranking with only one loss. Next match against Slovenia on Thursday.
The French team defeated Russia (3-1) on Wednesday in its seventh match of the Nations League in Rimini, and remains ideally placed at the halfway point of the group stage. After the first seven games against the 15 opponents of this unique group, Les Bleus have six victories, only beaten by Serbia (3-2) last Friday.
Before the games against Poland and Brazil later in the day, the only other two teams having lost only one game so far, Les Bleus occupy the first place in the ranking. Against Russia, a direct competitor, Earvin Ngapeth’s partners took a set to get into the game.
Les Bleus unrolled after the first set
But after the first act, lost 25-22, where they were always behind, Les Bleus made their power speak, like their point guard Jean Patry (18 points). They then took off, with a second set quickly completed (25-18) and a third one that took the way, with a lead of seven points (19-12). The Russians didn’t give up, and came back to their level (23-23) and even had three set points. The French had the last word thanks to two last serves from their leader Ngapeth (30-28), before taking off in the fourth set (25-19).
They will face a new tough opposition on Thursday against Slovenia, runner-up in Europe, before the more affordable Canadians on Friday. Already qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games (July 23-August 8), Laurent Tillie’s French team is testing itself in this Nations League (formerly the World League), in a sanitary bubble in Rimini, a seaside town on the Adriatic coast. At the end of this first phase (May 28-June 23), the first four will play the semi-finals and the final, on the weekend of June 26 and 27.