Bulgaria and USA lose invincibility, all doors open in men’s tournament
2012 Olympic Games
London, Great Britain, August 4, 2012. Bulgaria and USA eventually suffered their first loss in the men’s Olympic tournament on Saturday as they were edged by Argentina and Russia respectively. Actually their stories differ quite significantly as Bulgaria did never really challenge Argentina while the USA missed out on an opportunity to finish in straight sets their clash with Russia.
The players coached by Vladimir Alekno ultimately found back their best play and could flip the score around to claim a well-deserved 3-2 win. As a result of Saturday’s matches, the next-to-last in the Pool play, three teams – Poland, Bulgaria, and Italy – are topping the charts of Pool A with 3 wins and 1 loss each, while the same record is shared by top favorite USA, Brazil and Russia in Pool B. If Poland did not have any problems to down Team GB in straight sets, Italy and Brazil had to come back from behind to eventually have the upper hand over Australia and Serbia to possibly qualify for the 1/4 finals by finishing on top of the table in their respective preliminary groups.
Germany vs. Tunisia 3-0
Germany cruised to a 3-0 win (25-15, 25-16 and 25-16) over Tunisia to open the fourth round of preliminary action on Saturday morning at Earls Court and improve its record to 2 wins and 2 losses so far in the tournament. That was the second Olympic confrontation involving these teams after West Germany had bested Tunisia in the classification match 11-12 of the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Denys Kaliberda paced Germany with 13 points as setter Lukas Kampa distributed quite evenly among his spikers with three more finishing the match in double digits, namely Marcus Popp and György Grozer (with 11 apiece) and Marcus Böhme (10). Hamza Nagga was once again Tunisia’s most prolific scorer with 14 points. Germany’s domination at the net was well testified by a total of 14 blocks in three sets with middle blocker Max Günthör the absolute standout in this fundamental with 5.
Great Britain vs. Poland 0-3
Poland beat Great Britain in straight sets (25-16, 25-19, and 25-18) in a Pool A preliminary round match at Earls Court on Saturday. Zbigniew Bartman top scored for Poland with 20 points with Bartosz Kurek helping his side with 16, while Dami Bakare was the only British player in double digits with 14. Poland outclassed Team GB in blocking (9 vs. 0) with Kurek serving 3 out of 5 aces scored by his team. With this result, Poland improve their record to 3 wins and 1 loss in the tournament, while Team GB sits at the bottom of the charts with 4 losses in as many matches so far.
Australia vs. Italy 2-3
Italy overcame a two-set deficit to defeat a resilient Australia in a thrilling five-setter (21-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-14, 15-13) in the second match of Pool A on schedule for Saturday. It was Italy’s eighth lifetime victory without losses over Australia, but for the first time the boys from Down Under were able to extend the contest to the five-set limit against their European counterparts. The win improved Italy to a 3-1 win-loss record while Australia fell to 1-3. The Australians won the defensive battle at the net with 19 blocks to 12 from the winners who served 8 aces to 5 by the defeated side.
Michal Lasko led Italy with 25 points, including two blocks and two aces, followed by Cristian Savani with 17. Alessandro Fei and Luigi Mastrangelo contributed 12 and 11 respectively.
Australia’s Thomas Edgar totalled 18 points, including three blocks and two serving aces, as one of five Aussies in double digits. Aidan Zingel finished with 15, Travis Passier chipped in with 12 and a match-high five blocks, while Adam White and Igor Yudin charted 12 and 11 points.
Russia vs. United States 3-2
Russia recovered from two sets down to beat United States 3-2 (27-29, 19-25, 26-24, 25-16, 15-8) in a match of Pool B of the Olympic Games men’s volleyball tournament that lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes at Earls Court on Saturday. Russia improved to a win-loss record of 3-1 while snapping the Olympic defending champions USA’s three-game winning streak. Maxim Mikhaylov and Sergey Tetyukhin collected 27 and 21 points respectively to lead the Russian offense while Alexander Volkov and Dmitry Ilinykh contributed 16 and 11. Matt Anderson’s 18 points led the Americans while Clayton Stanley, David Lee and Reid Priddy finished with 14, 12 and 11 points respectively.
The winners held a slight advantage of 16-15 in the blocks category and 8-6 in the service winners charts.
Argentina vs. Bulgaria 3-1
Argentina eventually stopped the winning march of Bulgaria on Saturday evening at Earls Court as the South Americans got past the side that stood atop of the charts in Pool A after three rounds of play. The match eventually ended in a 3-1 win (25-18, 21-25, 25-19, and 25-20) for Argentina that with this result improved its record to 2 wins and 2 losses, thus being in full contention for a spot in the 1/4 finals, the goal coach Javier Weber had set for this tournament, while Bulgaria dropped to 3-1, thereby sharing the same ratio of Poland and Italy. A total of four players from Argentina finished the game in double figures, with Federico Pereyra and Rodrigo Quiroga contributing 17 apiece, while Facundo Conte and Sebastian Solé added 16 and 10 to the tally of the South Americans. Even though they played below the standards of their previous matches, still Bulgaria had the best scorer of the game on their side with Tsvetan Sokolov (25), but Argentina was superior in all fundamentals, with Quiroga contributing five out of 11 aces. Via this win Argentina also improved on its Olympic record with Bulgaria, moving up to 2 wins and 1 loss.
Brazil vs. Serbia 3-2
Brazil edged Serbia 3-2 in the last match of the day (22-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-22, and 15-9) to improve its record to 3 wins and 1 loss so far in the tournament. Sidnei Dos Santos paced the triple world champions with 15 points, including 6 blocks, while Serbia’s charts were topped by Nikola Kovacevic with 16. Brazil stood out in blocking with and serving to re-start their chase for Olympic glory while Serbia dropped down to 3 losses and 1 win so far in the tournament. Having to play Russia in the last round of the prelims, the chances of the 2011 European champions to make it to the 1/4 finals look very slim, but they shall not be ruled out as on Saturday night they displayed once again all of their well-known fighting spirit.
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