Japan started the men's VNL with four wins in Nagoya ©Volleyball World

Japan were the only team who finished the first week of the men's Volleyball Nations League (VNL) with a 100 per cent record, but defending champions and Olympic gold medallists France endured a difficult start with just one win from four.

The Japanese city of Nagoya hosted Pool Two matches at the Nippon Gaishi Hall, and the hosts made full use of their home advantage with wins against Iran, Serbia, Bulgaria and France.

They started with a 25-16, 25-22, 25-19 win against Iran, following it with a 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-20 comeback victory against Serbia.

Japan proved too strong for Colombia 25-22, 25-21, 26-24, then came from behind to beat France 25-27, 25-22, 25-21, 25-20.

In the match against France, both teams finished level on attack points and kill blocks, but the home side powered home seven aces to their opponents' six and unforced errors plagued the Tokyo 2020 Olympic champions.

France's only win from their opening four matches came 25-20, 23-25, 25-16, 25-17 against China, which fell in the middle of defeats to World Championship runners-up Poland and Slovenia.

Poland's 25-23, 18-25, 35-33, 25-15 success against the French was one of three from the first week, with their only defeat coming in their last match 25-21, 25-19, 25-14 to Serbia.

Slovenia are also on three wins after beating Serbia and Iran, and losing to Bulgaria.

Serbia's wins against China and Poland, coupled with defeats to Slovenia and Japan, mean they occupy the last top eight place.

Olympic silver and bronze medallists the United States and Argentina were the top performers in Pool One in the first week, both notching three wins at the TD Place Arena in the Canadian city of Ottawa.

The US, VNL runners-up last year, started with a 25-19, 25-23, 25-21 win over The Netherlands, and followed it with an impressive straight-sets 25-15, 25-18, 25-19 victory against world champions Italy.

They followed it with a comfortable 25-22, 25-20, 25-20 win against hosts Canada, but finished with a 25-19, 21-25, 25-15, 25-21 defeat to World Championship bronze medallists Brazil.

Brazil's third win of the week, following on from a 26-24, 25-16, 19-25, 25-15 triumph over Germany, 19-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 15-13 thrilling victory against Argentina and a 25-16, 22-25, 27-29, 25-22, 20-18 defeat to Cuba, moves them to second in the International Volleyball Federation's men's world rankings behind only Poland.

Brazil were one of five teams who chalked up three wins in the first week of the men's VNL ©Volleyball World
Brazil were one of five teams who chalked up three wins in the first week of the men's VNL ©Volleyball World

Argentina's loss to Brazil was the only blemish on their week in Ottawa, as they started with a superb 25-22, 25-23, 25-18 win over Italy and added victories 25-21, 21-25, 25-21, 25-16 against Canada and 34-36, 25-20, 25-17, 20-25, 15-10 against The Netherlands.

Despite their defeats to the US and Argentina, the Dutch occupy a final round place in seventh thanks to wins against Cuba 28-26, 25-23, 25-18 and Germany 25-20, 33-31, 25-21.

Although well beaten by Argentina and the US, Italy are just outside the top eight on their set ratio after beating Cuba 25-20, 25-19, 20-25, 25-18 and Germany 25-23, 25-18, 25-27, 25-19.

Bulgaria, Iran, France, Cuba, Germany, Canada and China each recorded just one win from the first week.

The top eight sides after the three weeks of competition are set to advance to the final round in Gdańsk, although this could drop to the top seven as hosts Poland are guaranteed a place.

Rotterdam in The Netherlands and Orléans in France are due to host matches in the second week of the men's VNL, scheduled for June 20 to 25.

The women's VNL is set to resume on Tuesday (June 13) in Hong Kong and Brazil's capital Brasilia, running through to Sunday (June 18).