Quick-hits: What to know about each men’s volleyball team in 2016 Olympics 

The Olympics is finally here and the men’s volleyball tournament beginning this weekend with the pool-play stage.

Check out this breakdown of what to know about all 12 men’s volleyball teams competing for an Olympic gold medal.


UNITED STATES
Pool:
Pool A
World ranking: No. 5
Highlights from quadrennial: 2014 FIVB World League gold medal, 2015 FIVB World League bronze medal, 2015 FIVB World Cup champions
Olympic appearances: 11 (1964, 1968, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)
Olympic medals: Four (1984 gold, 1988 gold, 1992 bronze, 2008 gold)
How it qualified for Olympics: Won 2015 FIVB World Cup
Player to know: Opposite Matt Anderson was named the Most Valuable Player at the FIVB World Cup after having a tournament-high 26 aces and leading the United States with 137 kills. In addition, the former Penn State All-American and four-time USA Volleyball Male Player of the Year had a team-high 121 kills as the United States reached the 2016 FIVB World League Finals.
Prognosis: This is a young U.S. team that could easily be the gold-medal favorites in 2020. The United States has exceeded most people’s expectations this quad and should be in medal contention if it makes it out of Pool A.

ARGENTINA
Pool:
Pool B
World ranking: No. 6
Highlights from quadrennial: South American Olympic Qualification Tournament champions
Olympic appearances: Seven (1984, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004 2012, 2016)
Olympic medals: One (1988 bronze)
How it qualified for Olympics: Won South American Olympic Qualification Tournament earlier this year
Player to know: Middle attacker Sebastian Sole was named the Best Middle Attacker at the 2015 FIVB World Cup after having a tournament-best 34 blocks. He also was third on Argentina with 76 kills and a team-high 36 blocks during the 2016 FIVB World League.
Prognosis: Argentina is a favorite to advance out of the pool-play stage and reach the quarterfinals, but making it to the semifinals will be a challenge.

BRAZIL
Pool:
Pool A
World ranking: No. 1
Highlights from quadrennial: 2013 FIVB World League silver medal, 2014 FIVB World League silver medal, 2016 FIVB World League silver medal
Olympic appearances: 14 (1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)
Olympic medals: Five (1984 silver, 1992 gold, 2004 gold, 2008 silver, 2012 silver)
How it qualified for Olympics: Host nation
Player to know: Setter Bruno Mossa Rezende helped lead Brazil to silver-medal finishes at the last two Olympics. He also guided the Brazilian offense to a 55.14 percent offensive efficiency as the team finished in second place at the FIVB World League this summer.
Prognosis: It’s gold medal or bust for the host nation after winning the silver medal at the last two Olympics. Good thing they will have a ruckus crowd behind them for every match.


CANADA
Pool:
Pool A
World ranking: No. 12
Highlights from quadrennial: 2015 Pan American Games bronze medal, 2016 NORCECA Continental Championship silver medal, 2016 FIVB World League Group 2 championship
Olympic appearances: Four (1976, 1984, 1992, 2016)
Olympic medals: None
How it qualified for Olympics: Clinched berth at World Olympic Qualification Tournament earlier this year
Player to know: Outside attacker John Gordon Perrin led all players with 109 kills at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan. He also this summer earned Best Spiker honors at the NORCECA Continental Championship. In addition, Gordon Perrin had a team-high 15 kills in Canada’s sweep against Portugal in the 2016 FIVB World League Group 2 championship match.
Prognosis: Canada is capable for pulling off an upset. It will need an upset victory to have any chance of advancing out of the pool-play stage.

CUBA
Pool:
Pool B
World ranking: No. 17
Highlights from quadrennial: 2016 NORCECA Continental Championship gold medal
Olympic appearances: Seven (1972, 1976, 1980, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2016)
Olympic medals: One (1976 bronze)
How it qualified for Olympics: Won NORCECA Continental Championship
Player to know: Cuban team captain and outside attacker Javier Ernesto Jimenez Scull had 13 kills and was ranked among the top offensive players at the recent NORCECA Continental Championship.
Prognosis: It already has been a disastrous summer for Cuba. The country’s first Olympic appearance in 16 years is unlikely to produce many positive results.

EGYPT
Pool:
Pool B
World ranking: No. 20
Highlights from quadrennial: 2015 FIVB World League Group 3 championships, 2016 African Continental Championship gold medal
Olympic appearances: Four (1984, 2000, 2008, 2016)
Olympic medals: None
How it qualified for Olympics: Won African Continental Championship
Player to know: Opposite Ahmed Abdelhay had a tournament-best 207 kills at the 2015 FIVB World Cup.
Prognosis: Egypt has won six consecutive African Championship titles. It will take some special to happen, though, for Egypt to make the quarterfinals.

FRANCE
Pool:
Pool A
World ranking: No. 11
Highlights from quadrennial: 2014 FIVB World League Group 2 silver medal, 2015 FIVB World League championship
Olympic appearances: Four (1988, 1992, 2004, 2016)
Olympic medals: None
How it qualified for Olympics: Clinched berth at World Olympic Qualification Tournament earlier this year
Player to know: Opposite Antonin Rouzier led France and was second at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan with 104 kills. He also is making his Olympic debut after having a team-high 170 kills on a 53.46 percent offensive efficiency in FIVB World League play during the summer.
Prognosis: France looks primed to advance beyond the pool-play stage and reach the quarterfinals for the nation’s first time in the Olympic men’s volleyball tournament.

IRAN
Pool:
Pool B
World ranking: No. 10
Highlights from quadrennial: Fourth-place finish at 2014 FIVB World League, Sixth-place finish at 2014 FIVB World Championship
Olympic appearances: One (2016)
Olympic medals: None
How it qualified for Olympics: Top-ranked Asian team at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan
Player to know: Middle attacker Mousavi Eraghi Seyed Mohammad was named the Second-Best Middle Attacker at the 2015 FIVB World Cup as a finished among the tournament leaders with 90 kills and 32 blocks. In addition, the middle attacker had a team-high 25 blocks in the 2016 FIVB World League
Prognosis: Iran isn’t a favorite to medal but it’s more than capable of wrecking another team’s hopes of a podium finish.

ITALY
Pool:
Pool A
World ranking: No. 4
Highlights from quadrennial: 2013 FIVB World League bronze medal, 2014 FIVB World League bronze medal, 2015 FIVB World Cup runner-up
Olympic appearances: 11 (1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)
Olympic medals: Five (1984 bronze, 1996 silver, 2000 bronze, 2004 silver, 2012 bronze)
How it qualified for Olympics: Second-place finish at 2015 FIVB World Cup
Player to know: Opposite Ivan Zaytsev led Italy with 155 kills and added 12 aces in FIVB World League play during the summer. He also was third among all players at the 2015 FIVB World Cup with 168 kills and was one of two players with more than 20 aces at the international event.
Prognosis: Italy has been a threat to win a medal at every Olympics since the 1970s. Nothing has changed for this Olympics.

MEXICO
Pool:
Pool A
World ranking: No. 26
Highlights from quadrennial: 2016 NORCECA Continental Championship bronze medal, World Olympic Qualification Tournament champions
Olympic appearances: Two (1968, 2016)
Olympic medals: None
How it qualified for Olympics: Clinched berth at World Olympic Qualification Tournament earlier this year
Player to know: Outside attacker Carlos Guerra led Mexico with 46 kills and had a tournament-best seven aces as the nation won its World Olympic Qualification Tournament to earn its first Olympic berth in 48 years. Guerra is a former Penn State All-American.
Prognosis: It will be considered an upset for Mexico to win a match or get a single point in the Pool A standings.

POLAND
Pool:
Pool B
World ranking: No. 2
Highlights from quadrennial: 2014 FIVB World Championship gold medal
Olympic appearances: Nine (1968, 1972 1976, 1980, 1996, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)
Olympic medals: One (1976 gold)
How it qualified for Olympics: Clinched berth at World Olympic Qualification Tournament
Player to know: Opposite Dawid Konarski led Poland and was in the top 15 at the World Olympic Qualification tournament with 57 kills. He also had a team-high 101 kills in the 2016 FIVB World League, including having a team-best 17 kills in a five-game victory against France in the World League Finals.
Prognosis: Poland is still a favorite to be in medal contention — even if it was less than stellar in FIVB World League play the last two years.

RUSSIA
Pool:
Pool B
World ranking: No. 3
Highlights from quadrennial: Won 2016 European Olympic Qualification Tournament
Olympic appearances: 13 (1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)
Olympic medals: 10 (1964 gold, 1968 gold, 1972 bronze, 1976 silver, 1980 gold, 1988 silver, 2000 silver, 2004 bronze, 2008 bronze, 2012 gold)
How it qualified for Olympics: Won European Olympic Qualification Tournament
Player to know: Opposite Maxim Mikhaylov finished with a tournament-best 124 kills as Russia won the 2012 Olympic gold medal. Mikhaylov also led Russia offensively with 18 points in a four-game victory against France in the European Olympic Qualification Tournament finals earlier this year.
Prognosis: Russia has done everything from fire a head coach to not often playing many of its starters in FIVB World League play during the last four years. All that happening, though, would it really shock anyone if the defending-gold medalists were on the podium once again.