Historic placement in the semifinals of the Olympic Games for the volleyball selection of France! Earvin N'Gapeth and his teammates struggled in the group stage, reaching the quarterfinals with a modest two wins from five matches, but when they needed to show character, they did it - against Poland, which looked like a team that would destroy them before the 2: 1 lead.
In the end, instead of having a duel with Argentina, Bartosz Kurek, Wilfredo Leon and the rest of the national team left the field of the hall with tears in their eyes - 2: 3 (25:21, 22:25, 25:21, 21:25, 9:15 ). It seemed that the French had their hands tied, that they were in the corner of the volleyball ring, in the ropes from which they would not get out when Poland took a 2: 1 lead in sets.
Not because the deficit of one set is something you can't catch up on, but because Wilfredo Leon and Bartosz Kurek sent lightning and thunder to their field. Both were at about 65 percent of attacking success, which is an extraordinary performance.
However, the technician of the winning team, Antoine Brizard, gave his teammates the necessary self-confidence for the fourth set with magic solutions, and then the break where France showed their strength. He played the game with his eyes on his back and in that manner, he was an enigma for the Polish block.
For the entire match, his attackers were caught only six times in the block, and he is the most deserved for that The match was equalized until the number of points on the scoreboard became double-digit on both sides. With a series of five points, the Poles separated at 17:11, and the French retaliated with the same measure.
They came to a point behind (18:17), and then again allowed Poland to make a series - this time of three points, which was elusive at the very end of the set.
The second period of the game brought a fierce fight embodied through the fact that until the result of 20:20, neither of the teams had more than two points of advantage.
France chose the ideal moment to connect three points and restore the result balance. The third set brought a similar level of uncertainty as the previous one, but France in the end simply could not cope with the unmistakable attacks of Bartosz Kurek and Wilfredo Leon.
The corrector of Poland had a 7/10 attack in that part of the game, and the receiver of the service from Cuba had the same number of points from only eight attempts. He drew the balls in the corners of the field and left the defense of Tricolor unanswered.
After the first three sets, the Polish duo won 35 out of a total of 46 points of their team from the attack. However, as much as Leon and Kurek were dominant in the third set, the French technician Antoine Brizard was amazing and the result was 25:21 Tie break hinted at an eruption of uncertainty, and we got a walk of France.
When we say "walk", we mean exclusively the result, because it was already clear at 6: 2, and then at 9: 4 for France, who will go to the semifinals. However, nothing was given to the Tricolors. They deserved everything by moving the entire defense team as one.
Both, blockers who constantly stopped the Polish attackers, and defensive players in the field. Even coach Tillie, a man with over 300 games for the French national team, made a dig in an attempt to extend a point that had already been lost. That tells you everything.