The Russian Olympic Committee team rallied past Brazil in the semifinals to set up a gold medal confrontation with France in men’s volleyball at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Russians took their semifinal in four sets, winning 18-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-23 to advance to the gold medal game after missing out on that opportunity in 2016.
Third set comeback proves decisive
But even that score fails to tell the whole story. Brazil held a massive 20-12 lead in the critical third set, only to watch the ROC roar back to win.
“The third set is some kind of miracle,” Russian coach Tuomas Sammelvuo told reporters. “It shouldn’t be possible … they have very experienced players to play these kinds of games. When you win the third set like this, you’ve got a huge amount of confidence and mental energy and there’s nothing that can stop you after.”
Brazil will now miss the gold medal game in men’s volleyball for the first time since 2000. The Brazilians won gold in Rio in 2016.
Maxim Mikhaylov scored 22 points to lead the ROC to victory. “The first set we were really worried,” Mikhaylov said. “They are the defending gold medalist, but we developed a mindset that Brazil is not as dangerous as they seem and we can do it. We made lots of substitutions and those definitely helped.”
France clinches first Olympic volleyball medal
France had an easier time in their semifinal. The French team swept Argentina in three sets, winning 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 to reach the gold medal game for the first time. In fact, France has never medaled in men’s or women’s volleyball, a streak that is certain to end on Saturday.
|Olympic Volleyball Odds – Men’s Gold Medal Match (via DraftKings Sportsbook)|
|France: +145||ROC: -175|
|Bronze Medal Match|
|Argentina: +350||Brazil: -525|
The ROC comes into the match as a slight favorite to take gold. DraftKings Sportsbook rates ROC as the -175 pick to win, with France at +145. Both teams came into the Olympics as medal contenders: while Poland was the +240 favorite to win gold, the Russians (+325) were joint second choice with Brazil, with France (+550) close behind.
Brazil will now try to salvage a bronze medal as it takes on regional rivals Argentina. Brazil (-525) comes into the match as a heavy favorite over the Argentinians (+350). While Argentina has often competed well at the Olympics, it has only taken home one men’s volleyball medal in its history: a bronze in 1988. Notably, Argentina beat Brazil for that medal in a five-set match.