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France wins again, faces ROC for men’s Olympic volleyball gold medal

France, the team that lost to the USA to start the Tokyo Olympics men’s volleyball pool play, won again Thursday and will play for the gold medal.

France, which went 2-3 and finished fourth in Pool B, did it again Thursday with a sweep of Argentina two days after getting past Poland in five in the quarterfinals. Earlier in the tournament, Argentina beat France in five in their Pool B match.

Now France will play ROC after the Russians beat Brazil in four.

The gold-medal match is at 8:15 p.m. Eastern Tim on Friday in Ariake Arena. The bronze-medal match is at 12:30 a.m. Eastern.

France won 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 as Trevor Clevenot had 14 kills, Earvin Ngapeth 12, and Jean Patry 11 to go with two aces and two blocks. Barthelemy Chinenyeze had four blocks.

Facundo Conte led Argentina with 12 kills and Bruno Lima had eight.

In the first semifinal, ROC, which tied with Brazil atop Pool B at 4-1, swept Brazil in their first meeting on July 28. Then Thursday they won 18-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-23.

Maxim Mikhaylov led ROC with 20 kills. Egor Kliuka had 14 and Ivan Iakovlev had nine and three blocks.

“The first set we were really worried,” Mikhaylov said. “Compare Russia to Brazil. They have lots of experience in the Olympics. They are the defending gold medalist. But we developed a mindset that Brazil is not as dangerous as they seem and we can do it. We made lots of substitutions and those definitely helped.”

The Russians, of course, are not competing as Russians but as the Russian Olympic Committee.

“It’s not pleasant. I wish we could see the Russian flag and hear the Russian anthem,” Mikhaylov admitted. 

“But we should also value and be thankful that we are in the Olympics. Deep inside we feel we’re playing for Russia and not the Russian Olympic Committee.”