Kraków, Poland, July 16, 2016 – Wallace scored match-high 29 points sending Brazil into the World League final after overcoming France 3-1 (25-26, 23-25, 28-26, 33-31) on Friday night.
France could have been the first team to defend the World League title since Brazil did it in 2010, but Canarinhos showed more experience and power in the fourth set, when they came back thanks to the great performance of Wallace, who scored 29 times. The defending champions worked hard, but it was not enough to win. The best on their side was Antonin Rouzier with 27 points to his name.
Brazil have won a record 18 medals and a record nine gold medals at the World League eyeing to add another title in Sunday's final against Serbia. France can claim another medal after 2015 (gold) and 2006 (silver) if they prevail over Italy in the 3rd place match.
French spiker Antonin Rouzier opened the second semifinal with a massive spike, but Brazil quickly bounced with four points, forcing coach Laurent Tillie to call a time-out. The challenge system helped France twice, but Lucarelli was indomitable – he digged and spiked making the 11-7 lead. Bruno showed his best skills on set and helped in finding the way to block Rouzier. Substitutions did not work and Canarinhos paved their way to an easy win 25-16.
Les Bleus started the second set with clear minds. Rouzier and Earvin Ngapeth took the lead and brought their team to 8-4. Block was their domain and the score in Tauron Arena was 13-7. As expected, fans did not have to wait long for Brazil’s answer - Mauricio stopped Nicolas Le Goff and Lucarelli sent an ace at 15-14. Both teams exchanged blows and the score was open till the end, when France took matters into their own hands and Rouzier closed with a spike at 25-23.
Brazil came back on the court with anger, but Kevin Le Roux’s serves were atomic and resulted in 3-0 for the French. Staying focused paid off – France forced rivals to make mistakes and used it well making 9-6. They did not lose control and the South Americans could not manage to tie until 15-15, especially after the back injury of Mauricio Souza. Ngapeth reminded about his massive spike and gave France 20-17 lead, but Rezende’s team were still fighting hard and tied at 22 all. Evandro won the setball for Brazil, but Julien Lyneel’s spike provoked a loud “wow” in Tauron Arena. Fourth attempt was lucky and Lucas ended at 28-26 with a huge kill from the middle.
Wallace, with 21 points to his name after three sets, gave his team a 3-1 lead, but later France tied and took the lead at 8-7. They found a way to stop Brazil’s top scorer and with 14-8 everybody in the venue was thinking about a second tie-break tonight. And they were wrong, as Eder did a fantastic job on serve and his team tied at 16 all. Brazil earned three points in a row, but France did not let it go and tied 20-20. Marathon of errors accompanied the prolonged ending. France made three times serve errors, then fixed their mistakes in spike, but Wallace was also there. Mauricio used all his power and brought another matchball to Brazil, but they could not use it and there was 29-29. Wallace turned on the killer mode again and after a faulty dink by Le Roux, he could enjoy the promotion to the final with his team.