The much awaited 1/4 finals of the men’s Olympic tournament eventually ended in four straight-set victories for Brazil, Italy, Russia and Bulgaria to determine the grid of the semis coming up on Friday, August 10. Brazil easily downed neighbours Argentina in the opening match of the program to be followed by Italy that displayed a marvellous performance to stop the run of Team USA for a second consecutive Olympic title.
Russia emulated Brazil and Italy by routing the winners of the 2012 FIVB World League, Poland, in straight sets too and on Friday will be challenged by Bulgaria, the absolute sensation of the Olympics that got past Germany with a speedy 3-0 to make it to the top four after a long break, their last top-four finish being the silver medal claimed at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
Bulgaria and Russia will open the program of the semis on Friday at 3 pm to be followed by the game starring Italy and Brazil at 7:30 local time.
Argentina vs. Brazil 0-3
Brazil downed their neighbours of Argentina in straight sets (25-19, 25-17, and 25-20) to open the programme of the 1/4 finals in the men’s volleyball tournament thereby making it to the Olympic semis for the sixth time in history. The group coached by Bernardo Rezende will be playing on Friday the winner of the clash starring Italy and USA later in the afternoon. The triple world champions have embarked on a quest to emulate USA and Russia, i.e. the sole nations with three Olympic titles in men’s volleyball, to add more glory to an already impressive tally and a success story that started with a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Brazil was paced by Murilo Endres with 14 points including 2 blocks well supported by Sidnei dos Santos Junior and Wallace de Souza with 12 and 11 respectively, while Facundo Conte was the only Argentinean player to finish the game in double digits (10).
United States vs. Italy 0-3
After going through many ups and downs in the prelims, Italy played a fabulous game on Wednesday to down the 2008 Olympic champions of the USA in straight sets (28-26, 25-20, and 25-20) and challenge Brazil in the semis that are scheduled for Friday, August 10. After a very close first set where Italy came back from behind, the side mentored by Mauro Berruto played some world-class volleyball to cruise to a quick win that came as a surprise, as USA was seen as a force to reckon with on the quest for Olympic gold. Cristian Savani top scored for Italy with 19 points, including 4 aces, with Ivan Zaytsev adding 16 to the count, exactly the same figure registered by USA captain Clayton Stanley. Italy played superbly from the serving line, scoring a total of 9 aces, and is back in contention for an Olympic medal after failing to achieve that feat four years ago in Beijing where it ended up in fourth place.
Poland vs. Russia 0-3
Russia ended Poland’s dreams of a remake of the glorious days from the 1976 Olympics in Montreal by claiming the third quarterfinal match on Wednesday at Earls Court in three, straight sets (25-17, 25-23, and 25-21). The players of coach Vladimir Alekno played on a class of their own by scoring 7 aces as Maxim Mikhaylov top scored with 13 points, with giant Dmitriy Muserskiy – the tallest player in the event at 217 cm – adding 12. Poland’s performance was pretty weak, with Zbigniew Bartman totalling 14 points, but generally the guys in white and red jerseys looked like a distant copy of the side that had totally dominated the finals of the FIVB World League only a few weeks ago.
Bulgaria vs. Germany 3-0
Bulgaria completed the grid for the semis of the men’s volleyball tournament at Earls Court by routing Germany in three, straight sets (25-20, 25-16, and 25-14) to return to the top four of the Olympic arena for the first time since striking silver in Moscow back in 1980. Germany was literally out-classed by a Bulgarian side that has turned into the major sensation of the tournament and that stretched to the 1/4 finals the great momentum showed in the prelims where Vladimir Nikolov & Co. had capped the charts in group A. In what was a very one-sided game, Bulgaria was paced once again by Tsvetan Sokolov with 22 points including three blocks while György Grozer topped the table for Germany in a losing effort by registering 12.
“Volleyball has turned into a unique success story in London” says IOC member Mario Pescante After some disappointment resulting from the defeat Italy suffered on Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the women’s tournament, IOC Vice President Mario Pescante showed up once again at Earls Court and this time he could leave the venue with a totally different feeling, as the guys mentored by Mauro Berruto displayed a classy performance to eventually down the USA in straight sets and make it to the semis….