Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 19, 2016 – Colossal battles between reigning champions and runners-up are about to happen in the semifinals of the men’s volleyball tournament at Rio 2016 Olympic Games when the United States meet Italy and Russia take on hosts Brazil on Friday at Maracanazinho.
The United States and Italy, first and second at the 2015 FIVB World Cup, the first Olympic qualifier, will take the court in the afternoon session while the nightcap clash features Russia versus Brazil, the 1-2 teams in the previous Olympic summit.
After succumbing in their first two appearances in the tournament, the United States are riding on the crest of the wave winning four matches in a row, including a powerful straight-set victory over world- champions Poland in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, the Pool A pole-sitters Italy returned to the right path with a sweeping round-of-eight win against Iran after losing to Canada to close the preliminary phase. The Italians prevailed in a close match to open pool-play here after the two teams split victories at this year’s FIVB World League.
Ivan Zaytsev and Cuban-born Osmany Juantorena are Italy’s top guns while Aaron Russell and Matt Anderson lead the offence of the USA squad. On the other hand, the match features the two best setters of the tournament with Simone Gianelli spreading the ball for the European team and Micah Christenson as floor-leader for the Americans.
Olympic defending champions Russia reserved their best performance in the tournament thus far for when it mattered most by overpowering Canada in the quarterfinals. On the other hand, the home-crowd favourites Brazil battled to prevail against Argentina in the traditional duel between South American powerhouses.
The Brazilians have won the last three contests between the two sides, following a four-match winning streak by the Russians starting from the gold-medal match in London four years ago.
Brazil’s Wallace de Souza, the top scorer of the tournament with 109 points in six matches, will be challenged by Russia’s Artem Volvich and Maxim Mikhaylov, who are 1-2 in the blocking department.
Quick links - Women's Semifinals - Thursday, August 18:
Quick links - Men's Semifinals - Friday, August 19: