Latin flair will meet Eastern European steel in the Olympic men’s volleyball final as Brazil and Russia won their semifinal encounters on Friday to set up a gold-medal showdown between the two top-ranked teams.
Russia overcame underdog Bulgaria 3-1 in a testing four-set encounter, before Brazil entered the simmering Earls Court arena to romp past Italy 3-0 with the backing of some raucous samba supporters.
Both the teams came through their semifinals with differing degrees of swagger and panache.
Brazil was full of skill and verve, defending with gravity-defying athleticism, while Russia, led by two giants in Dmitriy Muserskiy and Maxim Mikhaylov, were ruthlessly efficient.
For Brazil it will be its third successive final and an opportunity to reclaim the title it won in Athens and ceded four years ago in Beijing.
The results: Men: Semifinals: Russia 3 bt Bulgaria 1; Brazil 3 bt Italy 0.
Keywords: Olympic men’s volleyball