RUSE, Bulgaria Ė Brazil edged France three sets to two (25-20, 25-20, 21-25, 23-25, 15-12) in Pool B action on Thursday to remain undefeated through two matches at the Volleyball Menís World Championship.
The reigning Olympic gold medalists and worldís top-ranked team struggled at the outset of the match but then rebounded to take a five-point lead and later clinch the first set by that same margin.
France came out determined to turn things around in the second set and hung close until the halfway point, but Brazil took a commanding 2-0 lead thanks to the strong play of Brazilian opposite Wallace de Souza and costly errors by the French side.
French head coach Laurent Tillie made some key adjustments in the third set, substituting half of his players in a bid to frustrate Brazilís potent attack.
The strategy proved effective, with France immediately grabbing a five-point lead and then keeping Brazil at bay through the end of the third set.
Virtually nothing separated the two teams in the fourth set, although France was able to win the crucial points at the very end and force a decider.
France appeared to have the momentum but three games in a row proved one too many against the powerful Brazilian squad, which sealed the narrow victory in two hours and 22 minutes.
Earvin NíGapeth led the way for France with 22 points, while Wallace de Souza was Brazilís top scorer with 20, followed by Luiz Felipe Marques Fonteles with 15.
Canada leads Pool B with six points after recording two consecutive straight-set victories over the Netherlands and Egypt, respectively.
Brazil is in second place with five points, while France is in third with four points.
Canada has a slight edge over Brazil because under tournament rules winners of five-set matches earn two points instead of three.
Teams that lose in five sets earn one point, compared with zero points for losing in three or four sets.
Sixteen of 24 teams (spread across four pools) will advance out of the first round of the Volleyball Menís World Championship, which is played once every four years and in 2018 is being co-hosted by Italy and Bulgaria.