United States to face Poland in Olympic tournament quarterfinals

The gold medalists from the 2014 FIVB World Championship and the 2015 FIVB World Cup will now meet with a spot in the Olympic semifinals on the line.

The FIVB announced Monday night that the World Cup champions United States will play Poland in its Olympic quarterfinals match at noon (CST) Wednesday in Rio.


The United States (3-2) despite losing its first two Olympic matches closed out pool-play on a three-match winning streak to earn the No. 3 seed in Pool A. It also swept last-place Mexico in a near must-win pool-play finale on Monday to clinch the nation’s fourth straight Olympic quarterfinals appearance.

Poland, which won the recent World Championship on its home court, finished Pool B as the No. 2 seed to earn an Olympic quarterfinals berth. Three of the four pool-play victories for Poland were sweeps, including beating the Pool B champions Argentina.

Teams that end pool-play as a No. 2 seed or No. 3 seed have their quarterfinals opponents from the opposing pool randomly selected. The FIVB created this drawing system for competitive fairness purposes and to avoid any team tanking to face a certain opponent.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams since Poland defeated the United States in four games at the World Cup in September — the only loss for United States during its championship performance. The United States, though went 4-1 against Poland in 2015 FIVB World League play highlighted with a sweep in the bronze-medal match.

The Poland and United States all-time Olympic series is tied at 1-1 with the United States sweeping the last meeting in its 1996 Olympic opener. Poland leads the all-time series in FIVB event at 18-15.

This quarterfinal match will also feature two of the top offensive players during the pool-play stage of the tournament.

Poland opposite Bartosz Kurek has a tournament-best 78 kills on a .504 attack percentage, including having a match-high 31 kills in a five-game loss to Russia on Saturday. U.S. outside attacker Aaron Russell in his Olympic debut is third at the tournament with 68 kills and had double-digit kills in four of the team’s five pool-play matches.

Polish middle attacker Mateusz Bieniek is also leading the tournament with nine aces, while U.S. middle attacker Max Holt is second with eight aces and outside attacker Taylor Sander is third with seven aces.

Along with the United States versus Poland in the quarterfinals, the FIVB announced Russia (4-1) will play Canada (3-2) on Wednesday in the other No. 2 seed and No. 3 seed quarterfinal match.

The Pool B champions Argentina (4-1) in the quarterfinals finale on Wednesday will play the Pool A No. 4 Brazil (3-2), which defeated France in its pool-play finale to clinch the final quarterfinals berth. In addition, Italy (4-1) will play the Pool B No. 4 seed Iran (2-3) in its quarterfinals match on Wednesday.