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FIVB World League 2006
Match Description
Brazil come from behind to take fourth consecutive World League victory from France

The 2006 FIVB World League final pitched an experienced Brazilian side against the tournament's big surprise France, who were making their debut in the final in 17 years of competition after placing seventh last year.

Both teams opened well with Brazil taking a slight edge in to the first technical time-out, despite Ricardo serving out on his first serve of the match. France drew level on a couple of Brazilian errors as Stephane Antiga continued the consistently accurate serving that had got his team this far in the tournament. France kept level on the back of some solid defending, but a service error gave Brazil the serve, with Ricardo this time choosing a safe route down the left-hand side to allow Andre to make up a point with a spike down the middle. As the rallies got more interesting, France's strong defence proved crucial to the team's ability to keep level with the powerful South Americans. After Brazil gave away the serve on an error, top scorer Sebastien Ruette replied with an ace to take his team one point clear. Brazil's serving was a far cry from their efforts yesterday and Rezende's men notched up six service errors in the first set and allowed France to move three points clear to the first set point. Brazil saved one set point before a demon French spike secured the first set for France 25-22.

Brazil managed to take a one-point lead in spite of a service error and a French ace, but France responded quickly and blocked three consecutive Brazilian attacks before a successful kill turned the match around and put them ahead at the first technical break. The play was even on both sides until a Guillaume Samica ace spiced things up (this compared with three Brazilian service errors in the set) and forced Brazil to open up the game. As the teams remained level, it was another solid French block that took Philippe Blain's team ahead by one point at the second technical time-out. Whilst France played a solid, error-free game, Brazil made several surprising errors and allowed their challengers to pull three points clear. France then held off a counter-attack from Brazil to take the second set on Brazil's fifth service error of the set, 25-23.

France came out fighting in the third set in the hope of taking a straight-set victory, but Brazil seemed to have ironed out their errors and the teams were evenly matched heading into the first technical break. Brazil managed to take a three-point lead on some solid blocks and then capitalised on the first signs of weakness in the French defence before a second service error put the ball in France's court. A quick steal by Montmeat brought France close to equalising, but France's third service error of the set gave Brazil a two-point cushion going into the second technical time-out. Brazil's all-rounder Giba brought his team back into the game with blocks and spikes to take Brazil five points ahead with three consecutive points when they followed a French spike with a setting error and a failed block to allow France to close the gap. At 23-21 ahead, Bernardo Rezende called his first time-out of the set, after which his team came out to take the third set 25-22 and keep them in the game.

There was nothing to separate the two teams in the early stages of the fourth set, but a critical reception error by the French libero Jean-Francois Exiga allowed Brazil to draw two points clear. After the first technical time-out, Brazil doubled their lead, but two more service errors allowed France to close the gap. Brazil worked hard to maintain the lead, but France were never more than a couple of points behind. France gained momentum from an unusually bad service error by Brazil to draw level at 17-17 on a Samica ace. Brazil nevertheless extended slightly, but France came back to within one point at 22-23 as Bernardinho called his first time-out. It was then a service error by France that gave Brazil a reprieve by handing them the fourth set 25-23.

France's acclimitisation to the five-set matches showed as they took an early lead in the tie-break with the fresh legs of substitute Frantz Granvorka, but it was Brazil that led by two points as the teams switched ends. France drew closer as three Brazilian players scrambled to dig the ball but none of them was successful. Substitute Granvorka then put the pressure on the South Americans with an ace. Brazil, however, remained solid and extended the lead to three points on an Andre Heller block. A service error by Gustavo Endres gave France the serve, which super-sub Granvorka converted with a fireball spike down the middle to close within one point of the lead. As Brazil extended again, France saved two match balls before man of the match and tournament MVP Giba spiked home to give his team their fourth consecutive World League title, 22-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-13.