Cruel end to the match for the French volleyball players. The French team coached by Italian Andrea Giani ended Euro 2023 with a defeat against Slovenia 3 sets to 2 (25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 18-25, 15-11) Saturday September 16, synonymous with 4th place. Two days after the slap inflicted by Italy in the semi-finals, the Olympic champions left Rome and its Sports Palace with a double hangover: dominated by Italy in the semi-finals on Thursday, they came back to 2- 2 against the Slovenes after trailing 2-0 before losing in the tie-break.

Their record of this European Championship, the last major tournament before the 2024 Olympic Games (OJ) in Paris, is mixed with a total of three losses, including their defeat in the group stage, against Romania.

Andrea Giani’s players nevertheless dreamed of a European title, eight years after the only one in the history of French volleyball, won by this golden generation. But after a summer and a preparation disrupted by injuries (Trevor Clévenot, Kevin Tillie) and convalescences (Earvin Ngapeth), Italy, reigning European and world champion, and Slovenia exposed the current limits of the Tricolores .

Reasons for hope for the Paris 2024 Olympics

The Blues began the “consolation final” with Ngapeth starting for the first time in the knockout stage. Also with Stephen Boyer and Kevin Tillie in the starting team, they never led in the first set despite a burst at the end of the set and conceded on a fault in the service of Yacine Louati.

The Blues led for the first time at the start of the 2nd set up to 8-8, before losing their footing, notably against the Slovenian counterattacks (11-16, 12-19, 15-23). Despite the entries of Yacine Louati, Jean Patry and Benjamin Toniutti, they did not disrupt the Slovenes and conceded the 2nd set in thirty minutes. More effective on the counterattacks and thanks to Earvin Ngapeth’s 5 points, they won the 3rd set to come back to 2-1 and continued with the 4th set, before giving in in the tie-break.

The only consolation is that, less than a year before “their” Olympics, Earvin Ngapeth and his teammates signed their best result in a major international event since their Olympic coronation in Tokyo in 2021. While they were ranked 9th of Euro 2021 and 5th in the 2022 World Cup, without taking into account their victory in the 2022 Nations League, this 4th place places the Blues back in the international elite.