France beat Slovenia in straight sets to claim top honours at the 2015 Men’s European Volleyball Championships ©CEV

France secured their first-ever triumph at the Men’s European Volleyball Championships, beating the tournament’s surprise package Slovenia in the final in Sofia.

France claimed a 25-19, 29-27, 29-27 victory with relative ease.

It caps off a memorable season for Les Blues which saw them win the Volleyball World League Group 2 Finals before coming out on top in the Group 1 Finals, the sport’s test event for next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

Having won four silver medals and two bronze medals since the inception of the European Championships in 1948, France’s triumph ends a number of near misses.

“It is an amazing feeling, we are European champions and just can’t find the right words to describe the way we feel,” said France’s captain Benjamin Toniutti.

“This summer we already won the World League but we continued to work very hard on our way to this tournament because we wanted to confirm that result and show that this is the level we can compete at.

“Tonight we played the perfect match, everything went just perfect and now we can celebrate.”

Slovenia’s silver medal is the country's first since gaining independence in 1991 and only the second in any team sport following the runners-up finish claimed by the men’s national handball team at the 2004 European Championship on home soil.

"Of course I can’t be completely happy but I am nevertheless very proud of my players," said Slovenia's head coach Andrea Giani of Italy.

"This group has made it very far from where we started but we knew from the very beginning they had the potential to go for something big and I had the same feeling coming in here.

"Maybe we could not predict we would be in the big final, but I was sure and confident we would have achieved a good result at this Championship."

France won reasonably comfortably against the tournament's surprise package Slovenia
France won reasonably comfortably against the tournament's surprise package Slovenia ©CEV

Meanwhile in the bronze medal match, also played in Sofia, co-hosts Italy beat Bulgaria 25-20, 25-14, 23-25, 25-20 to ensure their 13th European Championship podium.

Keen to bounce back strongly from their semi-final defeat at the hands of Slovenia, Italy set the tempo from the outset to swiftly move into a two-set lead.

Bulgaria responded well by taking the third, but it ultimately proved to be in vain as their opponents sealed victory in the fourth.

“I am very happy and very satisfied because, after yesterday, it was not easy," said Italy's head coach Gian Lorenzo Blengini.

"We wanted to play for the gold medals so much and we were so disappointed after yesterday’s loss.

"And only after 24 hours to play another game against a strong team like Bulgaria was really hard.

"But today my players were very good.

"They played a fantastic match and did a great job."

France's Antonin Rouzier was named the Championships' Most Valuable Player and was joined in the 2015 men's EuroVolley dream team by compatriots Earvin Ngapeth, the second best outside spiker behind Slovenia's Tine Urnaut, and Jénia Grebennikov, the best libero.

Italy's two representatives were best setter Simone Giannelli and best opposite Ivan Zaytsev, while Bulgaria had the best and second best middle blockers in their ranks, Teodor Todorov and Viktor Yosifov. 

Related stories
October 2015: France eliminate hosts Bulgaria at Men’s European Volleyball Championships as surprise package Slovenia reach final
October 2015: Slovenia stun world champions Poland to earn semi-final spot at Men's European Volleyball Championships
October 2015: Serbia survive scare with comeback victory over Estonia at Men's European Volleyball Championships
October 2015: Bulgaria book quarter-final spot at European Volleyball Championships but a play-off awaits Italy
October 2015: Exclusive: Bulgaria and Italy "90 per cent" likely to co-host 2018 Men's World Volleyball Championships