ROC and Brazil secured the first two spots in the semifinals of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 at Ariake Arena on Tuesday, following their straight-set victories in their respective quarterfinal encounters.
ROC and Brazil set up Rio semifinal rematch
Look out for a battle of Olympic champions in one of the Tokyo 2020 men’s semifinals
Published 06:41, 03 Aug 2021
It will be a rematch of an Olympic semifinal between ROC and Brazil on Thursday. The two sides met previously in the Rio 2016 Olympic semifinals, when the home team won in straight sets. ROC will be looking for a repeat of their stunning performance against Brazil in the preliminary round - their latest Tokyo 2020 encounter - when the European squad beat the Olympic champions in straight sets.
ROC advanced to the next round in impressive fashion by way of a sweep of North American opponents Canada 3-0 (25-21, 30-28, 25-22).
“It’s hard to process our emotions right now since it is difficult to play the first match in the quarterfinals, I think it would have been easier if we had played the next match. But for sure there will be a lot of good emotions the next day when we realise that we won the match,” ROC captain Igor Kobzar said.
“We didn’t really play a sharp game today so it was kind of difficult to have an easy win, but I am glad that we were able to create a good atmosphere in the team to achieve this.”
Egor Kliuka had a seven-point haul in the first set and kept the tempo up for ROC hitters Maxim Mikhaylov and Dmitriy Volkov to disrupt the Canadian defence. The Canadians managed to trim the lead in the last couple of plays but the attacks of Artem Volvich and Mikhaylov allowed their side to get away with a four-point margin.
The Canadians showed a different, more aggressive and physical side to their efforts in the second set, as Gord Perrin and Lucas Van Berkel found the seams in the ROC defence.
At 23-all, Volvich redeemed himself from his error in the previous play to give ROC set point, but Graham Vigrass’ attack extended the set. After a tight exchange in attacks from both sides, Kliuka and Mikhaylov made back-to-back hits to give ROC the 2-0 edge.
Canada’s Ryan Sclater erupted with seven points in the third set, but Mikhaylov and Volkov continued to convert points on their swings to give their side a slim advantage. ROC’s better blocking and service game factored in to gain an advantage and secure the match win.
“ROC played well, and it took us some time to adjust to their serving and blocking. They did their job well against us,” Perrin said.
Volkov, Mikhaylov and Kliuka led ROC with 15, 14, and 12 points, while Perrin, Sclater and Van Berkel were the main scorers for Canada with 15, 14 and 11 markers.
Reigning Olympic champions Brazil reached the final four for the fifth consecutive time, following their tough 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20) triumph over Olympic hosts Japan.
“Our concentration and level in this match were good. That is why we got this win against Japan,” Brazil outside hitter Yoandy Leal said.
“The level of the Brazilian team is really high, and we are all in good condition right now. In order to win the next matches, we just have to keep working hard. We are facing ROC again and we need to rest now and prepare for a tough encounter with them.”
Leal finished with 16 points off 15 attacks and a block, and teamed-up with Wallace De Souza and Ricardo Lucarelli, who added 13 and 10 markers, to overpower the Japanese defence.
Japan captain Yuki Ishikawa helped his team with 17 points built from 13 attacks, two blocks and two aces. Yuji Nishida contributed 13 points, but the rest of the hitters were contained by their rivals.
Brazil dictated the momentum throughout the match but experienced a short struggle in the second set as the Japanese side held the lead. However, they regained their composure that got their attack game and net defence going well again after that. Mauricio Souza scored back-to-back points from a block and a strong attack that closed the match.