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The depth of the French squad was one of the keys to the team's success

Star outside hitter Earvin Ngapeth received the VNL 2022 Most Valuable Player award, but France’s victory in the fourth edition of the tournament on Sunday, in Bologna, Italy, was, above everything else, a true team effort.

The reigning Olympic champions entered the tournament with one of the deepest rosters in the men's tournament and head coach Andrea Giani, in his first year as the team's coach, made good use of it. As many as 18 of the 25 players entered in the VNL had playing time during the tournament.

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches on demand on Volleyball TV.

The French strategy also proved to be successful during the VNL Finals, with Giani using ten different players during the gold medal match against the United States, resulting in outside hitter Trevor Clevenot, opposite Jean Patry and libero Jenia Grebennikov joining Ngapeth on the VNL Dream Team.

The 31-year-old Ngapeth was key in the gold medal match with 22 points and spectacular plays in decisive moments of the game, but it was Patry who carried the French offensively during the Finals.

Earvin Ngapeth Points Made Leader in France vs. USA - Top Points Made

The 25-year-old opposite tallied 17 points against the Americans, completing a highly-productive performance in the Finals, which also saw him score another 19 against Japan in the quarterfinals and 16 against Italy in the semifinals. Patry’s 52 points were the most among all players in the Final Phase of the event and helped him to end the VNL with 136 points, averaging 9.71 per match.

Clevenot’s all-around game was also a tremendous asset for the French during the Finals. The talented 28-year-old outside hitter had more positive actions in serve-receive than any other player in the Finals, with 32, and also played an important role in the team’s offensive system, producing 33 points across the three matches in Bologna.

Trevor Clevenot Top Plays vs. USA

Giani also got great performances from his starting middle blockers Nicolas Le Goff and Barthelemy Chinenyeze in the Finals. The Olympic champions combined for 39 kills and added six and five blocks respectively, ranking third and fourth in blocks among the players who competed in Bologna.

Setter Antoine Brizard was another player who did an excellent job of putting the team in a position to succeed in the VNL. The 28-year-old playmaker ranked second, only behind American Micah Christenson, in successful sets (47), and also topped the serving table with seven aces. Brizard was instrumental to the French victory in the gold medal match, going on a long serving run in the tie-breaker that helped the Europeans build a comfortable lead.

Libero Grebennikov was preserved during the Preliminary Phase so that he could bring his best game to the Finals. And that's exactly what happened, as the 31-year-old defender came up trumps when the team most needed him, delivering 12 digs in the final against the Americans, some of which were in critical moments of the match.

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Grebennikov's presence strengthened France's defence in the Finals

Other individual standouts of the VNL Finals included Christenson (72 sets), compatriots Torey Defalco (43 points, 7 aces) and David Smith (8 blocks) and Italian libero Fabio Balaso (35 digs).