Egor Kliuka of ROC spikes the ball during the men's volleyball final between France and ROC at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 7, 2021. (Xinhua/Yang Shiyao)
TOKYO, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- France held off the Russian Olympic Committee 3-2 in the men's volleyball final here on Saturday to win a historic Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games.
The Frenchmen, whose previous best Olympics finish was eighth at the Seoul Games in 1988, beat the ROC again, with a scoreline of 25-23, 25-17, 21-25, 21-25, 15-12. The two teams clashed in the pool B preliminaries with France prevailing 3-1.
Having finished fourth in preliminary pool B with two wins and three losses, France eliminated Poland, the top finishers from pool A, 3-2 in the quarterfinals, and Argentina 3-0 in the semifinals.
Trailing 3-0 in the tiebreaker of the final, France pulled it back at 6-all and went on to take a 13-11 lead through a spike and a storming ace of Jean Patry. Egor Kliuka pulled the ROC within 13-12, but a smart second touch dink of French setter Antoine Brizard and a spiking error from Maxim Mikhaylov handed the gold medal to France.
Earvin Ngapeth led France with 26 points, with Patry and Trevor Clevenot adding 15 and 11 respectively. The Frenchmen reaped nine aces, compared to only one for the ROC.
Falling behind 22-18 in the first set, the Frenchmen ran off five points in a row, including a pair of aces by Brizard, to snatch the lead at 23-22. A service mistake of Brizard allowed the ROC to level it at 23-all, but Ngapeth drove the ball out of bounds to make it 24-23 and Trevor Clevenot clinched the set winner for France with a spike.
France continued their winning momentum in the second set, jumping to a 10-5 lead and 19-12 in front. The Russian men steadily pulled within 19-16 and 20-17, only to find France wrap up the set with a 5-0 run.
In the third set, the ROC erased a 12-9 deficit to tie it at 15-all before pulling away from 19-all to level one set back.
France stayed within 21-20 in the fourth set, but the ROC staged a 4-1 burst with Ivan Iakovlev blocking Patry to force the tiebreaker.
The Russian men, who had claimed four medals in the last five Olympic Games, settled for silver. The bronze medal went to Argentina, who beat Brazil 3-2 earlier on Saturday.
Mikhaylov led the ROC with 21 points and Kliuka added 20. Enditem