News ID: 218004
Published: 0251 GMT July 09, 2018

Russia claims first VNL title

Russia claims first VNL title
Russian players pose for a photo with their gold medals at the 2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League in Lille, France, on July 8, 2018.
fivb.com

Maxim Mikhaylov's virtuoso display helped Russia seal the FIVB Men's Volleyball Nations League gold medal as the Russians surged past the host France in three sets (25-22, 25-20, 25-23) with one of the finest volleyball performances in recent years.

The inaugural VNL has been an exhilarating competition with Russia and France the best two sides across the past two months, fivb.com reported.

But it was Russia which broke the French hearts with a brilliant all-court display as it won its first world-level title since claiming FIVB Volleyball World League gold in 2013.

France survived an epic USA fightback to win the semifinal in five sets, but it looked like those exploits had caught up with them as the Frenchmen were outclassed by a supremely powerful Russian outfit, which looked unstoppable when in full flow.

Russia defeated Brazil in its semifinal match in arguably the best VNL performance of the campaign, but this world-class display surpassed that as a multi-talented French outfit simply had no answer to this Russian juggernaut.

Mikhaylov was breathtaking in all facets of his game, from his ace serves to his outrageous power and precision from spike range as he finished with a game-high 19 points. Egor Kliuka (10 points) was also colossal while Dmitriy Muserskiy (12 points) was a rock in the middle. Five Russian players compiled at least two block points as the French were shut out. From defense to attack, Russia were simply too good.

France – which incredibly has never won a world-level title outside of the World League, although it had won that competition in two of the last three editions – did have some impressive performers with Kevin Le Roux, in particular, scoring two block points on his way to a personal haul of eight. Earvin Ngapeth may have top-scored with 16 points, but he was repeatedly snuffed out early on as France toiled. Jean Patry and Thibault Rossard produced moments of brilliance, but usual big hitter Stephen Boyer had an evening to forget.

Earlier on the closing day of the finals, USA bounced back from its semifinal defeat t to shut out Brazil 3-0 (25-21, 28-26, 28-26) for the bronze.

 And the Americans must have wanted it a lot, because coach John Speraw stuck to his starting lineup without using a single substitute despite the second and third sets being as close as they get.

It is USA's first podium appearance in a world competition since it picked up bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

 

 

   
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