Maxim Mikhaylov topped all scorers with 22 points to lead ROC to a 3-1 (18-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-23) win over Brazil in the first men’s semifinal match at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Thursday.

Mikhaylov's 22-point haul were built from 20 attacks and two blocks. The ROC victory was also enhanced by the good performances of Egor Kliuka and Ivan Iakovlev who finished with 15 and 11 points, respectively.

The Brazilian offence was led by Yoandy Leal who made 18 points, with help from Lucas Saatkamp who had 13, and from Wallace De Souza and Ricardo Lucarelli who made 11 and 10 points.

ROC made their way back in the Olympic final. In 2012, they won gold in London, but lost their chance to progress to the Rio 2016 final after their 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-17) defeat in the semifinals against Brazil.

“We did not do well on our serve in the fourth set and they did a better job than us on that area. Towards the end of the match, we were not able to put our attack to their court. We have been in four Olympic finals in a row, so it is not difficult for us to defend a gold medal. However, this is sport and this is about this match, which our opponents deserved more than us today," Brazil captain and setter Bruno Rezende said.


The match began with a tight first set as both teams battled to an 8-8 tie. Leal, Lucas and Mauricio Souza made headway for the Brazilian side from a string of attacks and blocks.

ROC could not make their way back into the first set as Wallace and Lucarelli joined in the Brazilians’ attack barrage and further widened the lead to seven points at 23-16. A service blunder by ROC conceded the set at 25-18. The South Americans managed 15 attacks in the set, with six coming from Leal.

ROC showed up in the second set with a different intensity, starting with back-to-back blocks and an attack onslaught by Maxim Mikhaylov and Egor Kliuka to create a 10-5 advantage.

Alan Souza’s entry in the set had a positive effect as he tried to fire things up for Brazil, but ROC middles Artem Volvich and Iakovlev responded well in offence and defence to maintain ROC's edge. Mikhaylov, Kliuka and Dmitriy Volkov took over in offence and closed the set at 25-21. Mikhaylov had a seven-point scoring output from six attacks and a block.


Both teams played great defence at the start of the third, but Brazil got better breaks and scored three straight points off long rallies to post a 9-6 lead, then their offence-driven frontline helped them dominate at 23-19 late in the third.

However, the ROC athletes reversed the course of the set, as Iakovlev’s blocking and Mikhaylov and Kliuka’s spiking enabled a comeback. Ilyas Kurkaev denied an attack to complete the third set turnaround in favour of ROC at 26-24.

The fourth set went down to the wire with a recurrent trade of strong attacks from both teams. The score reached a deadlock at 22-all, when an attack by Wallace went out of bounds and gave ROC a one-point advantage.

Mikhaylov stepped up in defence and deflected Douglas on an attack to give ROC match point at 24-22, but Douglas retaliated with another attack to trail by just one point. Kliuka’s right-flank swing completed ROC’s upset of the Olympic champions at 25-23.


“We felt kind of overwhelmed and not confident in the first set, but from my understanding it was because some of them are in their first Olympic Games. Later on we gained more confidence and calmed down,” Mikhaylov said.

“Emotionally, we started to believe that our opponents are not a threat, and we can beat a team like Brazil. We just had to believe in ourselves to do that. We have 12 members in the team that are all good players. So the changes or substitutions were relevant to help the team concentrate and make the next move.”