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Ligue A volleyball season 2021-2022: what mid-season assessment?

We are already halfway through the French volleyball championship Ligue A season 2021-2022, and some trends are emerging in view of the final phases which will take place next April (play-offs). With 3 teams that will fight for 1st place in the regular season which will give home advantage throughout the final phase, a fierce battle for the play-offs but also a fight not to go down to League B, the 2nd part of the championship promises to be intense! Here is the mid-season report of the A volleyball league.

A trio that dominates the A League of volleyball

With an almost perfect course, Tours Volley Ball finished first in the first leg of Ligue A and was crowned (honorary title) Autumn champion. Yet deprived even before the start of the season of his sharp recruited this summer, Aboubacar Drame Neto, victim of a ruptured Achilles tendon, then of his Moroccan attacking receiver Zouheir El Graoui in stride, the TVB had to hire a joker medical, Kamil Baranek to replace the Moroccan, and start the season without a professional. While the start of the season looked complicated, the TVB was able to find the right formula on the ground to compensate for the absences, and the contribution of the Olympic champion, Kevin Tillie, was able to stabilize the Tourangeau game. To the point of starting the season with 12 wins in a row before biting the dust in Sète. 3th in the standings, the Arago of Sète is a half-surprise. With a good recruitment made up of Canadian Ryan Sclater and German Moritz Karlitzek, the Sète now have 2 offensive forces capable of making the difference at all times, whether in service or attack. Their recent victories against Tours and Chaumont demonstrated that the Southerners had to be counted on this season. Last team of the top three, the Narbonne Volley, dolphin of the TVB. Not spared by injuries, the Audois were able to maintain momentum thanks to their substitutes. With their Argentinian smuggler Nicolas Uriarte, and his South American strikers Lisandro Zanotti (also Argentinian) and Raphael Araujo (a sharp Brazilian), Narbonne is more than an outsider, who climbs the stages year after year. Even if these teams have taken their distance in the standings, it will however be necessary to remain vigilant because the pursuers Montpellier and Chaumont, which we announced above, will never be far away.

Chaumont and Montpellier down

Vice-Champion of France last season after an incredible final, Chaumont was rightly designated as favorite for the title. By having only slightly altered its workforce (arrival of the Romanian Adrian Aciobanitei in place of Marshall and Mousse Gueye to replace Dan MacDonnell) and having managed to keep Osniel Mergarejo, the CVB had big ambitions. But the fault is to note that after the first leg, the workforce did not meet expectations. Recently beaten by TVB, Sète and Narbonne (0 points taken), in addition to a surprise elimination in the CEV European Cup, the CVB will have to recover to at least obtain the advantage of the field during the 1/4 play-offs. The finding is less critical for the Montpellier University Club. Tied on points with Chaumont (but a game late), the Héraultais had to integrate into their workforce the young sharp of the France team Théo Faure and Julien Lyneel (after a year without playing due to injury). Leader of the regular phase last season before collapsing in 1/2, Montpellier will remain one of the contenders for the title and should be more solid at the start of 2022.

Who to play in the play-offs?

Behind these 5 teams is a peloton made up of 7 teams (in 4 points) who are still in the running for a place in the play-off. We find Nice, Paris, Tourcoing, Plessis-Robinson, Nantes, Toulouse as well as Cambrai. Announced in the big outsiders at the start of the season, Tourcoing Lille Métropole does not meet expectations for the moment. With a South American recruitment (Felipe Ramme and Gabriel Vaccari) in addition to the French international Julien Winkelmuller at the forefront, the TLM was feared. But it is clear that the mayonnaise does not take so far. Apart from Tourcoing, the other teams making up the mid-table are within their objectives. Whether it’s Nice, Paris Volley, Nantes as well as Toulouse and Cambrai, the fight will be fierce and everyone will present their arguments. Nice can count on its Olympic Bronze medalist, Bruno Lima to send them to the final phase. Paris, with its rear traction composed of Nicolas Mendez (Olympic tanned last summer) and the Serbian Mira Kujundzic will also be able to claim a ticket. For the 3 other teams, which are Nantes, Toulouse and Cambrai, it will be necessary to avoid injuries to hope to catch a jump seat but everything will be possible, all the teams having a level that is noticeably close. For Plessis-Robinson, the objective is quite different. Announced possibly in the cart, the promoted continues to surprise with already 5 acquired successes and a margin on the last of the class. The former sharp of the France team, Antonin Rouzier (MVP of Euro 2015 won by the France team) seems to find a 2nd youth from the height of his 35 years and it is all the promoted who can breathe. For these teams playing the play-offs, the hole seems already made on the last 2 teams, even if the relegation system (in the form of play-down, see at the end of the article) will give a chance to the last of the classification .

Poitiers and Cannes on borrowed time

In terms of ranking, what a surprise to find 2 big names in the history of the A volleyball league, Poitiers and Cannes. The surprise is all the greater for AS Cannes, which is quite simply the reigning French champion! Even having renewed certain positions (arrivals of Christian Fromm … who has just left the club, Gabriel Nelli and David Sossenheimer among others), the champions of France 2021 have kept a framework of the title with Gelinski, Klyamar and Koncilja. The set never took, also helped by the injuries. The coach has just been sacked and arrivals are announced in the coming days in order to save the club from relegation. For Stade Poitevin Volley Beach, the start of the season has turned into a disaster. Also affected by injuries (the Iranian Mohammad Manavinezhad had to leave the team before the season for a herniated disc, and the Brazilian passer Eduardo Carisio missed 6 weeks of competition also for a back problem), Poitiers was able to pull important victories (against Tourcoing, Toulouse and Cannes) to allow him not to sink and to still believe in a possible comeback to be able to have a better position for the play-downs.

A 2nde part of the season which promises to be thrilling at all levels of the A Volley League. Whether for the first places, the play-offs and relegation, the suspense will be present!

Formula for the 2021-2022 Ligue A Volley season:

  • Clubs ranked 1time at the 8th place compete in the Ligue A Volley play-offs to award the French champion.
  • The ranked clubs of the 9th at the 14th place compete in the play-downs and start the single pool with the following number of points: 0 points in the 14th, 3 points in the 13th, 6 points in the 12th, 9 points in the 11th, 12 points in the 10th, 15 points in the 9thth.

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