The Slovenia Times

Slovenia win EuroVolley bronze

Slovenia win bronze at the European Volleyball Championship after defeating France 3:2. Photo: The European Volleyball Confederation (CEV)
Slovenia won a nail-biting five-setter against France (3:2) in Rome on 16 September to clinch bronze at the Men's European Volleyball Championship, their fourth EuroVolley medal after three silvers.

Slovenia outplayed the Olympic champions in the first two sets (25:22, 25:16) with Rok Možič being largely responsible for France not being able to take the lead throughout the first two sets.

France came out stronger in the third set, winning both this (25:21) and the following set (25:18). But in the final set, Slovenia gradually came back.

The teams were neck and neck up until 4:4, but then Slovenia made a difference of three points and gradually widened the gap, with the set ending at 15:11 after two hours and 20 minutes of play.

Možič scored a match-high 26 points, including 23 kills, 2 aces and 1 block. He was followed by Slovenia's captain Tine Urnaut (18 points) and France's leader Earvin Ngapeth (16).

"For the first time we finish the tournament with a win," Slovenia captain Tine Urnaut said, referring to the fact that Slovenia made it to the final at the EuroVolley in 2015, 2019 and 2021 but then lost to win silver.

"It was a very tough match today. After two sets France started to play on their level, so all in all we are happy that we won," he added.

Earlier on in the championship Slovenia had to concede to Poland in the semifinals on 14 September to end their winning streak, their game upset after Gregor Ropret dropped out due to an ankle injury.

Poland then went on to win the championship by defeating Italy in straight sets in the final.

In the game for bronze the injured Ropret was replaced by Dejan Vinčič, who arrived in Rome only the day before.

"I came, I saw, I conquered, like the Italians say. I'm very proud of the boys for putting me in a position where I could help," Vinčič said, adding: "This bronze shines like gold."

Gheorge Cretu, Slovenia's head coach described the victory as a special moment. "We won the small final against the Olympic champions ... They can turn the game at any moment, we had to go beyond our limits. I have no words to describe the character that the boys showed today," said Cretu, who comes from Romania.

The team now face qualifying for a spot at the Paris Olympic Games. They are heading for a tournament in Japan later this month.

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