Olympic volleyball: USA women set to play DR; ROC, Brazil, Argentina, France make men’s semis

Olympic volleyball 8/3/2021
Argentina celebrates beating Italy/FIVB photo

Thursday’s Tokyo Olympics men’s volleyball semifinals are set:

ROC (Russia) plays Brazil — both won in three — and Argentina plays France — both won in five.

Now the the women take the court at Ariake Arena with Wednesday’s quarterfinals and that includes the USA, minus two starters with ankle injuries, playing the Dominican Republic. That match starts at 1 p.m. local time, midnight Eastern on Tuesday in America.

According to the Olympics.com and NBC brackets, the winner of that match plays the winner of the match between Serbia and Italy. However, in the USA Volleyball story, it has the USA winner playing the Korea vs. Turkey winner.

After Serbia faces Italy, Brazil, the only undefeated team in the tournament, plays ROC.

OLYMPIC VOLLEYBALL WOMEN

The USA is without opposite Jordan Thompson, who was leading the team in kills before going down with a sprained ankle against ROC on Saturday. Then in the next match, in which the Americans ralled to beat Italy in five, setter Jordyn Poulter sprained her ankle the same way, stepping on a teammate.

In their places Annie Drews has taken over at opposite and been outstanding, while Micha Hancock came in at setter. 

Just in case, is there a backup setter? 

Libero Justine Wong-Orantes was a setter through high school and club (she won a national championship) before becoming a libero at Nebraska.

Thompson is still the sixth-leading attacker in the tournament with 66 kills. Her next closest teammate is Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who has 49. Jordan Larson has 48.

The Dominican team includes Bethania De La Cruz, one of the stars of last winter’s Athletes Unlimited Volleyball conducted in Dallas. Jordan Larson was the AU MVP.

In pool play, the USA won Pool B as it swept Argentina and China, beat Turkey five, was swept by ROC, and beat Italy in five.

The DR was swept by Serbia, lost in five to Brazil, lost in five to Korea, swept Kenya, and beat Japan in four to win fourth place in Pool A. 

OLYMPIC VOLLEYBALL MEN

Tuesday’s men’s action started out predictably enough as ROC swept Canada and Brazil swept Japan.

But then Argentina went five to knock out Italy to get back into the Olympics semifinals for the first time since 1988,

And then France stunned Poland in five. 

ROC beat Canada 25-21, 30-28, 25-22. ROC (5-1) got 12 kills each from Dmitry Volkov and Maxim Mkihaylov and nine from Egor Kliuka.

“Serving well was a big key for us,” said ROC coach Tuomas Sammelvuo, whose team had eight aces. 

“We waited for our chance to close the second set. We lost our game plan on block and defence in the middle of the third, but we made few mistakes on the attack. We showed strong teamwork on our side out.”

Ryan Sclater led Canada (2-4) with 12 kills and Nicholas Hoag had nine.

Brazil (5-1) beat Japan (3-3) 25-20, 25-22, 25-20. Brazil got 15 kills from Yoandy Hildago and 12 from Ricardo Souza.

Argentina (4-2) beat Italy (4-2), the 2016 silver medalists in Rio, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 14-25, 15-12. Facuno Conte led a balanced Argentine attack with 17 kills and two blocks. Ezequiel Palacios had 14 kills, two blocks, and two aces, and Bruno Lima had 12 kills and two aces. Italy’s Osmany Juantorena had 19 kills and two blocks, and Alessandro Michieletto had 17 kills, two blocks, and two aces.

France, which opened the tournament by losing to the USA, improved to 3-3 with its 21-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-21, 15-9 victory over Pool A winner Poland (4-2). Jean Patry led with 19 kills and two blocks. Earvin Ngapeth had 16 kills and a block, and Trevor Clevnot had 14 kills and two blocks. Antoine Brizard had four blocks and a kill. 

Poland got a combined 53 kills from Wilfredo Leon Venero and Bartosz Kurek. Venero had 28 kills and an ace, while Kurek had 25 kills and a block.

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Brazil libero Thales Hoss pancakes against Japan/FIVB photo
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