Chicago, USA, July 11, 2019 - Title-holders Russia sprinted to a 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-17) victory in one hour and fifteen minutes against France as they began their campaign in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League Finals in Chicago on Thursday with a re-match of last year's final against France.
France were unable to bounce back from their defeat to USA on Wednesday with Russia coach Tuomas Sammelvuo's team including four players scoring in double digits, including Ilyas Kurkaev, Dmitry Volkov, Ivan Iakovlev and Victor Poletaev, while Jean Patry and Thibault Rossard did what they could to limit the damage with 13 and 11 points respectively for coach Laurent Tillie's team. France's two defeats mean USA and Russia, who both have one win and a game still to play, are qualified for the semifinals of the 2019 VNL.
Russia reached the Finals on a record of 12 wins from 15 matches and a third place in the Preliminary Round ranking. They take on USA on Friday to decide which team tops the pool.
- Russia (including as Soviet Union) have a W15-L10 record against France at world level major competitions (FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Olympic Games, World Championship, World Cup, World League and Grand Champions Cup).
- This match is a repeat of the 2018 Volleyball Nations League Final when Russia beat France 3-0. Maxim Mikhaylov was top scorer in that victory on 19 points. Earvin Ngapeth scored 16 points for France.
- That loss is France's only defeat in their last six matches against Russia in world level major competitions.
- France won their other two VNL matches versus Russia, 3-0 in last year's preliminary round and 3-1 in this year's VNL, on 31 May. In that last win, Russia's 36 errors made up 38 percent of France's total points (95).
- Russia could win the first two editions of the Volleyball Nations League. They also won the first two Olympic gold medals in men's volleyball (as URS in 1964, 1968) and the first two world championships (as URS in 1949, 1952).
- Russia have won 27 matches and lost seven in the VNL. No team won more matches and lost fewer fixtures than Russia in the competition.
- Russia enter this year's final round as the third ranked team in the preliminary phase. Last year they entered the final round as the second ranked team in the preliminary round behind France.
- Victor Poletaev was Russia's top scorer in this year's preliminary round on 149 points. Last year, he had two points in the finals, when Maxim Mikhaylov (63) led Russia in scoring.
- Ilyas Kurkaev (0.43 average) and Igor Philippov (0.41 avg) were among the best blockers in the preliminary round.
- Egor Kliuka scored 20 aces in the preliminary phase, second most of all players, behind Japan's Yuji Nishida (23).
- France suffered a 3-1 loss against United States in their first match in this year's finals. Last year, France won their two matches in the final round and the semi-final, before losing the final against Russia 3-0.
- France could lose two VNL matches in a row for the second time, after defeats versus Argentina and USA last June.
- USA's blocking power was key in France's 3-1 loss versus USA on Wednesday. The French concede 16 points from USA's block and scored five points from blocks themselves.
- Jean Patry was France's top scorer in Wednesday's 3-1 defeat against USA on 17 points, 10 more than the next French player, Trevor Clevenot (7).