March 22, 2023

The reigning Olympic champions, France, needed to bring their absolute best game to the Arena Stozice on Monday in order to avoid an upset against Japan in the Round of 16 of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship 2022 and remain in contention for their first ever world title.

The Europeans were pushed to their limits by the Asians and had to avoid multiple match points; however, they were able to capitalize on the depth and star power of their squad in order to prevail in a thrilling five-set battle in Ljubljana, Slovenia (25-17, 21-25, 26-24, 22-25, 18-16) and earn their spot among the top eight teams in the tournament.

The amazingly even encounter saw a fantastic balance between the teams in the major numbers, with France dominating in blocks (11 to eight) and both sides posting identical productivity in kills (64 apiece), as well as aces (five).

It’s possible that the substitute made by the French team in the second set, which brought in backup to play opposite Stephen Boyer, was the decisive factor in their triumph. Boyer, age 26, contributed to the improvement of the squad by coming off the bench and racking up 17 points, 16 kills, and one block. Jean Patry was the player that he replaced.

Both Barthélémy Chinenyeze and Earvin Ngapeth had a very productive match. The 24-year-old middle blocker had 14 kills and three blocks, while the star outside hitter left the court with 15 kills (including the kill that won the match) and two aces.

Chinenyeze remarked on the bout and said, “It was terrifying; such a wacky battle.” “Japan absolutely blew us away with their performance, and this victory tastes much sweeter because of how well it was earned.” Nishida was on fire, and although we utilized a variety of blocking and defensive strategies in an effort to slow him down, he constantly had something new up his sleeve. We were aware that it was going to be a challenging match, but we must confess that we did not anticipate it to be nearly as challenging as it turned out to be. We will now have some time off to recover and be ready for the quarterfinals.

Yuji Nishida was on fire, as Chinenyeze pointed out, contributing a match-high 31 points with 28 kills, two blocks, and one ace. Chinenyeze also pointed out that Nishida was on fire. An remarkable 57.50% effectiveness rate was achieved by the high-flying opponent who is 22 years old.

Outside hitters Yuri Ishikawa and Ran Takahashi also had a significant impact on Japan’s performance, with Ishikawa racking up 22 points (19 kills, one block, and two aces) and Takahashi, a rising star at age 21, contributing another 11 points. Ishikawa is the team captain and Takahashi is just 21 years old (nine kills, one block, one ace).

The French, who finished in fourth place in 2014, will now face Italy, the team that currently holds the title of European champion, in the quarterfinals. They are hoping to improve on their previous finish. On Wednesday, at 17.30 hours local time, the European-wide competition will take place in Ljubljana (15.30 GMT).

This season, France and Italy played each other twice in the Volleyball Nations League, and France came out on top in both matches, claiming victory in straight sets. France is the reigning Olympic champion in the sport of volleyball, and Italy is currently ranked fourth in the world.

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