France outlasted an American comeback and Russia demolished Brazil here on Saturday after some electrifying action in the semifinals, setting up an all-European historic final in the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League in this northern France city.
2018 VNL medals matches (all times local, GMT+2):
• 17:00 - Bronze medal match: USA v Brazil
• 20:45 - Final: France v Russia
Despite taking to the court again in just about 13 hours after the end of their previous game, France were looking good for a clean sweep of USA. But that was before USA coach John Speraw intervened, bringing Aaron Russel in off the bench to replace Benjamin Patch and shifting the rest of the team around, to turn the tables.
France still got two shots at wrapping it up in four, but USA cancelled their two match points in the fourth to force a tie-break. Then, inspired by the passionate home crowd at the maginificent Stade Pierre-Mauroy, France kept their cool to retain the edge over the Americans throughout the fifth, as Stephen Boyer bagged a match-high 31 points.
Russia totally annihilated Brazil in what was the lowest-scoring game so far in the entire VNL, at just 49 points by the reigning Olympic champions. The European champions put up an impenetrable block and got the points in from all around as coach Sergei Shliapnikov stuck religiously to his starting lineup without using a single sub throughout the game.
This will be Russia's first appearance in the final of a world competition in five years, since they won the 2013 FIVB World League with a straight-set win over Russia.
Stephen Boyer reaches high above USA's Matt Anderson in the semifinals of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, as he becomes the fifth player in the comeptition to score 30 points or more in a single competition.
Boyer joins exclusive scorers list
Boyer joined the exclusive list of players who have scored 30 points or more in a single match with his 31 (25 kills, 3 stuffs, 3 aces). The 22-year-old outside hitter is only the fifth player to make the list in the VNL (and the only so far in the finals), after China's Jiang Chuan (37, against France on 3 June), Italy's Ivan Zaytsev (32, against Brazil on 26 May), Serbia's Aleksandar Atanasijevic (32, against Iran on 16 June) and Australia's Paul Carroll (31, against China on 16 June).