Historic Olympic run continues: France offense overpowers Argentina in semifinals sweep

Photo courtesy of the FIVB

Trevor Clevenot and Jean Party delivered in France’s biggest match so far at the tournament to ensure the country’s first Olympic men’s volleyball medal.

The pin-hitters both had double-digit kills and hit more than .500 as France swept Argentina 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 in the semifinals on Thursday in Tokyo to earn a berth to the gold-medal match.

With France making its first semifinals appearance in the nation’s history, Clevenot finished with a match-high 14 kills and hit .579. Patry also had 11 kills and zero errors on a .524 attack percentage in the victory.

Setter Antoine Brizard had 34 assists and guided the French offense to out-hit Argentina .388 to .228. Along with Clevenot and Patry, outside attacker Earvin Ngapeth had 12 kills with his final kill setting up the match-point in the third game.


France reached the gold-medal medal despite having a losing record in pool play that included a loss to Argentina. The nation earned the fourth and final quarterfinals berth from Pool B — advancing out of the preliminary round for the first time in the nation’s history — and then upset the No. 1 seed Poland in the quarterfinals.

Former UC Irvine outside attacker Kevin Tillie did not play in the victory against Argentina. Tille, the lone former NCAA men’s volleyball player remaining in the tournament, has primarily come off the French bench as a serving specialist throughout the tournament.

Outside attacker Facundo Conte led Argentina with 12 kills and was the only Argentina player with double-digit kills in the loss that ended the country’s four-match winning streak.

Argentina opposite Bruno Lima had eight kills but was limited to a .158 attack percentage. Lima entered the semifinals leading the Olympics in kills.

France will now advance to play Russia in the gold-medal match on Saturday. The two teams met in the preliminary round with France upsetting Russia — the only loss for Russia so far in this tournament.

Argentina will play Brazil in the bronze-medal match and will attempt to win the nation’s second all-time Olympic medal in men’s volleyball. In the 1988 bronze-medal match, Argentina beat Brazil in five games to finish on the medal podium.