The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 men’s volleyball standings took an interesting turn on Friday night, when France stopped ROC's unbeaten streak and put their squad in third place in Pool B, while Poland claimed Pool A leadership after recording their third straight win.

France edged out ROC in a thrilling closing match on Day 4 of the men’s tournament at Ariake Arena, registering a 3-1 (25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 25-20) against ROC, who remained Pool B’s top team with a 3-1 win-loss card.

“The plan was to do our best, we did not start the competition the way we wanted. We were not in a good position before this match, but we just played our game and we played it well. We have reached this point where we had to play against the strongest team in the world, but now we have to hit the reset button and know that we can play against this kind of team,” France setter and captain Benjamin Toniutti said.

Having split the first two sets of an entertaining encounter, France fashioned an effective attack scheme led by Earvin Ngapeth and Jean Patry to stun the ROC defence in the next two sets.

The French hitters had a productive night overall, as Patry led all scorers with 20, and Ngapeth and Trevor Clevenot helped out on offence with 18 and 17 points.

“We needed good defence to play against a physically strong team like ROC. I think we played good in defence and touched a lot of their attacks with our block. We played smart defence,” the French captain added.

Brazil overcame a tough first set loss to defeat the United States 3-1 (30-32, 25-23, 25-21, 25-20). The reigning Olympic champions came off a straight-set loss against ROC last Wednesday and were looking to get back on the winning track.

Their powerful wingmen Ricardo Lucarelli, Yoandy Leal and Wallace De Souza made that possible with a better net defence and service game than their rivals. Lucarelli led Brazil with 19. Leal and Wallace supported with 18 and 17 points.

USA players performed well on the attack and Matt Anderson led all scorers with 22 and Torey Defalco with 21 points. Taylor Sander helped out with 18 points.

After losing the opening set and prevailing in the next set confrontations, Brazil succeeded in the finer details like their serve and the management of their turnovers. The South Americans had seven aces and limited their errors to a minimum of 15.


“We came from a very tough loss the other day and we knew that it was going to be difficult against the United States. However, we did our best to win this match by serving very strong. We had to serve very strong more than we did last time, to put pressure on them, then gained edge with our good sideout game,” Wallace said.

Meanwhile, Poland are on a roll, after losing on the opening day. They earned their third victory with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 26-24) defeat of hosts Japan to secure their spot in the quarterfinals.

Wilfredo Leon had 15 points to lead the visiting side’s double-digit scorers: Alexander Sliwka who logged 13, and Bartosz Kurek and Jakub Kochanowski who had 11 apiece.

Poland played excellent net defence with Kochanowski and Mateusz Bienek deflecting four Japanese spikes each that intimidated the attackers of the home team, who relied on the offence of Yuki Ishikawa and Yuji Nishida. The Japanese scoring tandem combined for 29 points.

“We anticipated Japan to match the intensity of our team, so we had to keep a good sideout against their serves. Once we did that, we were able to execute our offence and defence at the net,” Poland libero Pawel Zatorski said.

In other matches, Italy, Canada and Argentina followed up on their victories on Wednesday with respective victories over Iran, Venezuela and Tunisia.

Italy improved their record to 3-1 with a victory in four sets (30-28, 25-21, 21-25, 25-21) against Iran.

The Italians and the Iranians were evenly matched in terms of strength, but the European side had the edge in attack, serve and in turnovers.

“It was really a battle in the first two sets, but we had a good sideout game and put pressure on our opponents. However, they improved on their serve and that put us in a difficult situation as we did not sideout so well. We were more careful in the fourth set and kept better focus until we closed the it,” Italy setter Simone Giannelli said.

In the opening match of the day, Canada secured their second win through a laidback 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-12) win over Venezuela, to give them momentum ahead of their big match with Poland on Sunday.

Outside hitters Nicholas Hoag and Timothy Stephen Maar guided the Canadian offence with their great all-around game. Hoag top scored with 16 built from 11 spikes, two blocks and three aces, while Maar added 15 points off 10 spikes, three blocks and two aces.


“We scored efficiently. Our blocks were good, and we had a lot of digs too, but all around we played a good game,” Hoag said.

“After that win against Iran, it was important to keep going on that momentum, so today we did that in the first and third sets. We weren’t as aggressive in the second set, but thankfully we were after 20, so those small details are going to be important because with those dips against Poland we are not going to win,” Hoag said.

The Venezuelan scorers could not break through the double-digit barrier and their top scorer Ronald Daniel Fayola was limited to only nine markers in the match.

Argentina’s second triumph in the tournament came from a 3-2 (23-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-18, 15-8) upset of Tunisia.

Argentina’s Bruno Lima reigned over Tunisia’s Wassim Ben Tara in a clash of the opposites. The two traded powerful hits to get their side’s offence going throughout the match. Lima topped all scorers with 27 points, including 25 kills and two blocks, while Ben Tara logged 21.


Tunisia got the better of Argentina in the first two sets with a two-point edge, but Argentina’s better support from Facundo Conte and Agustin Loser helped the team make a comeback.

Sunday’s fixtures will feature the teams in red and white – Poland and Canada – facing off at 09.00, followed by the rematch of the 2021 VNL semifinal between Brazil and France at 11.05.

In the afternoon, the match between ROC and Tunisia will be at 14.20, followed by the encounter between Italy and Venezuela at 16.25. The evening session will be highlighted by a decisive match between two Asian rivals Japan and Iran at 16.25, and concluded by the battle of the North and South Americans - USA and Argentina - at 21.45.