Olympic Volleyball 2012: Predicting Which Men's Teams Advance to Semifinals
The men's Olympic volleyball event is heating up as the competitors have been whittled down to just eight teams in the quarterfinals. The predictions do not account for many upsets, as the top teams right now have proven themselves to the world audience.
Fans can expect a few more straight-set wins as well as some movement in rankings.
The final eight teams will compete on Wednesday, August 9 in the final round of quarterfinals with their sights set on the championship medals.
The United States will look to hold onto their gold-medal title from the 2008 Beijing Games, and Brazil will be working to dethrone them once again.
Here are the predictions for the final four teams that will advance to the semifinals after Wednesday.
This is not a very bold prediction.
Although upsets can happen, and many have occurred in this year’s Olympic Games, Bulgaria will likely still advance to the semifinals without a problem.
Bulgaria currently stands at the top of Group A with 12 points and is 4-1 in matches. The team has only lost to No. 3 Argentina.
Bulgaria will be playing No. 4 Germany from Group B. Germany will be facing their opponents with just five points and a 2-3 record. Bulgaria has medaled in the past three Olympic Games, and this year should be no different.
Bulgaria will easily outplay Argentina and advance to the semifinals.
Russia is ranked No. 3 in Group B with 11 points.
The team has won four matches out of five, the same as Brazil and the U.S. Russia only lost to No. 2 Brazil, which is not much of a surprise. The Brazilians swept Russia in the preliminary round. Russia will play No. 2-ranked Poland from Group A for a spot in the semifinals.
Lucky for Russia, Poland is 3-2 in matches and has nine points. That could help Russia and work in its favor. And let’s not forget Russia’s incredible 3-2 victory over Team USA, now holding the No. 1 spot in Group B.
According to Kyle Brennan of nbcolympics.com, "Russia dominated the fifth set after rallying from a two-set deficit...The Russians took a 6-2 lead right off the bat in the fifth and kept the U.S. at bay through the end."
The Russians have powerful weapons in Dmitriy Ilinykh, Alexander Volkov, Sergey Grankin and Dmitriy Muserskiy
Russia knows how to make a comeback as well as upset a top team.
Brazil is a tremendous competitor in most Olympic volleyball appearances, and the 2012 London Games are no different.
Brazil has two silver medals and two gold medals to their name. In recent years, Brazil took the gold at the 2004 Athens Games and the silver at the 2008 Beijing Games (when Team USA took the gold).
Brazil has always been a strong team and is currently ranked No. 1 in the world by FIVB. The Brazil men’s national team came to London with some of the best players in the sport.
The team is led by Coach Bernardo Rezende and star players Gilberto Godhoy Filho and Leandro Vissotto Neves.
Brazil is ranked No. 2 in Group B right now with 11 points and will play No. 3 Argentina from Group A for a spot in the semifinals.
This was not a tough call, as the U.S. team has been consistently strong in the preliminary and quarterfinal rounds.
But Italy has put up quite a fight.
Although Italy is ranked at No. 4 in Group A, they have only lost two games so far. Italy fell to both Bulgaria and Poland, who hold the top two spots in Group A. And Italy took silver at the 2004 Athens Games. The Italians know what they’re doing, and the U.S. should be careful not to just brush them off.
The reason the U.S. will advance to the semifinals?
They are at the top of Group B right now, leading with 13 points. They are one of the favorites to easily advance on to the finals and win the gold medal. And the team is playing with excellent strategy and momentum right now.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. team will be ready to go on Wednesday, August 9 against Italy. Coach Alan Knipe chose to sit his regular players against Team USA’s straight-set win over Tunisia. (The team added to their previous straight-set wins over Serbia and Germany.)
It was a smart move from the head coach to give the players who see a lot of sets and time on the court, a chance to rest and rejuvenate their game. Team USA is sitting on top right now, and it’s hard to imagine that they’ll be slowing down.
Don’t expect a straight-set win over Italy, but the U.S. will still come out victorious and advance to the semifinals.