ROC, France set up final clash in Olympic men's volleyball

(Xinhua) 08:59, August 06, 2021

TOKYO, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- The Russian Olympic Committee and France beat Brazil and Argentina respectively here on Thursday in the semifinals to set up a final clash in the men's volleyball competitions of the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The Russians, the London Olympic gold medal winners who had lost to Brazil in the semifinals of the Rio Games, rallied past the defending Olympic champions 18-25, 25-21, 26-24 and 25-23 to earn their final berth.

Maxim Mikhaylov had 20 kills, two blocks to lead Russia with 22 points with Egor Kliuka and Ivan Iakovlev adding 15 and 12 respectively.

"The first set we were really worried. They (Brazil) have lots of experience in the Olympics. They are the defending gold medallist. But we developed a mindset that Brazil is not as dangerous as they seem and we can do it. We made lots of substitutions and those definitely helped," said Mikhaylov.

Falling behind 20-12 in the third set, the ROC managed to come back to take the victory at 26-24.

"The third set was some kind of miracle. At 20-12 it looked impossible to change the momentum. We were nervous. Then everyone just relaxed on the court. Point by point we came back," said ROC coach Tuomas Sammelvuo. "I made a few substitutions and that helped. I saw some players had used a lot of energy, I let them rest a bit. (Yaroslav) Podlesnykh came in having not played at all, and he served great."

"At the start when they were nervous I tried to lift the team's spirit. In the second set we showed signs of calming down. We could have let that gap in the third set ruin us but nobody lost confidence. We had heart in the crucial moments and we stopped hurrying," he added.

In the second semifinal match, France swept Argentina 25-22, 25-19 and 25-22 to meet the ROC in Saturday's gold medal match. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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