It was not enough. The German volleyball players missed the qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. 6577 spectators in the Max-Schmeling-Halle saw the 0: 3 (20:25, 20:25, 23:25) in the final against France – and with it Georg Grozer’s last international match.
“The confidence is there. If we pull through we’ll be in Tokyo with two legs, ”said captain Lukas Kampa before the game. And because the most important German attacker Grozer pulled through 1-1, the game started with a startling moment. Because when he landed on the net, he encountered the French blocker of the BR Volleys, Nicolas Le Goff, so unhappily that he lay there with a face contorted with pain. The German physiotherapists immediately rushed in – but Grozer got up again on his own and continued to play.
Grozer injured himself early – but bit his teeth
His subsequent serve landed on the net. But the Germans were equally good at the game. They did not let the French go away and equalized by a strong double block from Christian Fromm and Marcus Böhme to 6: 6. After a strong one-man block on the line as a result of an equally strong service from Georg Grozer, the Germans even took the lead for the first time at 9: 8 shortly thereafter.
Before the tournament, Grozer had stated that he would definitely step down from the national team if the Olympic qualification did not end positively. It was clear to him from the start that this January 10th in Berlin should not go down in history as the day of his last international match. With a massive diagonal attack he made it 11: 9. He bared his teeth and seemed to be in pain – but he continued to score. However, the French scored better. Above all, diagonal attacker Jean Patry, by far the most successful attacker in the tournament.
The French now lived up to the role of favorites that national coach Andrea Giani had given them in advance. A series of serve by Earvin N’Gapeth gave them a 21:16 lead, a little later they had set balls. When Ruben Schott’s serve landed far abroad, France had taken the first step towards Tokyo.
France was there at the crucial moments
The “fireworks” announced by Christian Fromm did not appear in the second movement. On the contrary. The French got into a frenzy and quickly led 5: 1. After two German points in a row, national coach Giani then clenched his fist demonstratively. He noticed that his team could now use any motivation.
And it worked. After a strong block by Tobias Kricks, the Germans suddenly led 7: 6 and came together in a circle with a wide chest. The spectators were also making noise – especially when Grozer increased the lead with another inimitable diagonal attack.
Now it was Jean Patry’s turn again. He provided a 15:13 lead for the French, including with a serve winner. And they moved off in the middle of the second set, analogous to the first, and ultimately got set two.
Grozer was always searched for, in the end maybe a little too often
After that, the Germans played all or nothing. After a strong Grozer serve it was 2-0, shortly afterwards even 5-2. But even in the third set, it remained that everything had to go through Grozer in the attack game. But even he alone could not prevent the French from taking the lead at 20:19 in the decisive phase of the round.
After a service error by Denis Kaliberda, France was only two points away from the Olympic qualification. Germany made up for the 23:23. But an error by Anton Brehme served the Frenchman the match point.
Den finally exploited N’Gapeth and thereby sealed the end of Grozer’s national team career – which after the game had no choice but to bow under the applause of the audience and accept the respect of his teammates: “Thank you! It was an honor and a pleasure for me to be with him for so long, “said Captain Kampa, speaking for all of his colleagues.