Olympic men’s volleyball medal matches to follow today

Check out the Olympic men’s volleyball gold-medal and bronze-medal matches to follow today and how to follow them live.

United States (4-3) vs. Russia (5-2)
Match vitals:
7:30 a.m. (CST) in Rio
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
Last Olympic bronze medal: United States (1992); Russia (2008)
All-time Olympic series: Russia leads 4-1
How they reached bronze-medal match: The United States competing in its third semifinals during the last four Olympics surrendered a late-game lead in the fourth game against Italy and then lost in a decisive fifth game. The defending gold-medalists Russia following a sweep versus Canada in the quarterfinals lost in three games to the host-nation Brazil in the semifinals to end its attempt at a gold-medal repeat.
What to know: For all the craziness of the Olympic tournament, the United States still has a chance to finish on the medal podium. All it needs to do is beat one of its biggest rivals two days following a devastating semifinal loss. The United States after a five-game loss to Italy will play Russia in the bronze-medal match. With a 22-19 lead in the fourth game versus Italy, the United States was three points away from a berth in the gold-medal match before Italy rallied and had a 6-0 run to win the game. In addition, Italy closed out the decisive fifth game on a 9-3 run. Despite losing in the semifinals, the United States after starting its Olympic tournament with two losses can win the nation’s fifth medal in Olympic men’s volleyball history if it beats Russia. U.S. outside attacker Aaron Russell in his Olympic debut is second in the tournament with 94 kills and is in the tournament’s top 10 with a .346 attack percentage. In addition, opposite Matt Anderson is fifth among all players with 90 kills, including having both a team-high 18 kills and five aces in the semifinals. The former Penn State All-Americans also are two of the five players in the tournament with at least 80 kills. In addition, Anderson along with middle attacker Max Holt and outside attacker Taylor Sander are tied second in the Olympics with nine aces. The United States enters its tournament-finale having more than a .300 attack percentage in five of its last six matches. U.S. setter and former USC All-American Micah Christenson also is second in the Olympics with a 10.77 assists per game average. Russia in its quarterfinal victory against Canada hit more than .500 and had a .375 attack percentage in its semifinal loss to Brazil. Opposite Maxim Mikhaylov led Russia with 14 kills against Brazil and is among the tournament leaders with 79 kills. This bronze-medal match will also feature the top four blockers in the tournament. Russian middle attacker Artem Volvich is first in the tournament with 22 blocks, while Holt, a former Penn State All-American, is second with 18 blocks. In addition, Mikhaylov and U.S. middle attacker David Lee are tied for third with 15 blocks. Besides the front-row defense, U.S. libero and former Stanford All-American Erik Shoji has a tournament-best 47 digs. This will be the first time United States has played in the bronze-medal match since it lost to Russia at 2004 Olympic medal match. The only Olympic victory for the United States against Russia occurred in 1988 when it beat the then-Soviet Union in the gold-medal match. However, the United States in its most recent meeting swept Russia in FIVB World League play in June. Russell in that victory also finished with a match-high 12 kills, while the former BYU All-American Sander had 11 kills. In addition, Holt led all players with five aces and three blocks against Russia.


Brazil (5-2) vs. Italy (6-1)
Match vitals:
11:15 a.m. (CST) in Rio
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match tweets
Last Olympic gold medal: Brazil (2004); Italy (never)
How they reached gold-medal match: Opposite Souza de Wallace, the tournament leader in kills, led Brazil with both 13 kills and four blocks in a semifinal sweep against Russia on Friday. In addition, Brazil is attempting to become the first host-nation to win the Olympic men’s volleyball gold medal since the United States achieved the feat in 1984. Italian opposite Ivan Zaytsev had a match-high 16 kills and five aces as Italy rallied from a one-game deficit to beat the United States in the semifinals. This is the first time Italy has reached the gold-medal match since 2004 and is attempting to win its first Olympic men’s volleyball gold medal.