TOKYO (Reuters) – Defending gold medallists Brazil overpowered hosts Japan in straight sets on Tuesday to reach the men’s Olympic volleyball semi-finals, where they will face the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), which earlier beat Canada in straight sets as well.
Spirited Japan made it to the quarter-finals for the first time in 29 years, but defending champions Brazil overwhelmed the hosts 25-20 25-22 25-20 in the Ariake Arena, with powerful serves and attacks.
Brazil’s outside hitter Yoandy Leal top-scored with 16 points, ably supported by Wallace de Souza (13 points) and Ricardo Lucarelli (12 points).
“We were really aggressive in serve because we know that if they have good reception, they have really dynamic and fast games,” Brazil’s setter and captain Bruno Rezende said.
“So we had to push our serve aggressively and try to make their setter play with wrong balls to put pressure.”
In the next stage on Thursday, world number one Brazil will face the ROC which won their preliminary match in straight sets.
“We have to study a lot and focus on what we have to do better than what we did in the first match,” Rezende said.
“It will be for sure a great battle.”
Earlier, the ROC became the first team to advance to semi-finals by beating Canada in straight sets 25–21 30–28 25–22 on the back of strong serves and attacks by Dmitry Volkov and Maxim Mikhaylov who scored 15 and 14 respectively.
“We served well. That was the big key of the game,” Tuomas Sammelvuo, ROC head coach, told reporters.
He said patience was another important factor for the victory, especially toward the end of the second set when they had a see-saw rally.
“Now we have to go and rest to use every hour in a maximum way before semi-finals.”
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Karishma Singh)