Five years of waiting and a two-week long tournament all comes down to the final day to determine what countries make the medal podium.
Check out all the Olympics indoor men’s volleyball medal-round matches to follow Friday night and Saturday morning and how to follow the matches live.
Russia (6-1) vs. France (4-3)
Match vitals: 9:15 p.m. (7:15 a.m. CST Saturday) in Tokyo, Japan
Follow live: Live stats, Live video
World rankings: Russia (No. 3); France (No. 5);
Olympic appearances: Russia (1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020); France (1988, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2020)
Olympic medals: Russia (1964 gold, 1968 gold, 1972 bronze, 1976 silver, 1980 gold, 1988 silver, 2000 silver, 2004 bronze, 2008 bronze, 2012 gold); France (none)
Olympic gold-medal match record Russia (2-3); France (0-0)
NCAA players on Russia roster: None
NCAA players on France roster: Kevin Tillie (UC Irvine 2012-13)
What to know: Russia in order to earn its fifth all-time gold medal in Olympic men’s volleyball will have to avenge its only loss of the tournament. The gold-medal match between France and Russia comes almost one week after France pulled off a four-game upset against the Pool B champions in the preliminary round. Russia since that loss has won its last three matches, including a four-game semifinal victory against Brazil that featured Russia overcoming a 20-12 deficit in the third game. Opposite Maxim Mikhaylov finished with a match-high 20 kills on a .485 attack percentage against Brazil to help Russia return to the gold-medal match for the first time since 2012. Russia defensively also has been one of the top blocking teams at the Olympics. Both Ivan Iakovlev and Dmitry Volkov lead Russia and are in the tournament’s top five with 18 blocks. France despite having a losing record in the preliminary round was able to reach the quarterfinals and advance out of pool-play for the first time in the nation’s history. It then proceeded to upset the No. 1 seed Poland in five games in the quarterfinals and swept Argentina in the semifinals. Opposite Jean Patry had a match-high two aces along with 11 kills and zero errors on a .529 attack percentage against Argentina. Party enters the gold-medal match second in the tournament with 103 kills and had a team-high 17 kills while hitting .428 in the first meeting against Russia. France is the only team at the Olympics to have three players with more than 90 kills. Outside attacker Earvin Ngapeth, similar to Patry, is tied for second at the tournament with 103 kills and had 17 kills in the preliminary round versus Russia. Outside attacker Trevor Clevenot also has 92 kills, including a match-high 14 kills on a .579 attack percentage in the semifinals. This gold-medal match will feature the only former NCAA men’s volleyball player remaining in the tournament. Former UC Irvine outside attacker Kevin Tillie appearing in his second Olympics has primarily come off the French bench as a serving specialist throughout this tournament. Tillie has a 90 percent serving-in rate and has appeared in five matches.
Brazil (5-2) vs. Argentina (4-3)
Match vitals: 1:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. CST Friday) in Tokyo, Japan
Follow live: Live stats, Live video
World rankings: Brazil (No. 1); Argentina (No. 8)
Olympic appearances: Brazil (1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020); Argentina (1984, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004 2012, 2016, 2020)
Olympic medals: Brazil (1984 silver, 1992 gold, 2004 gold, 2008 silver, 2012 silver, 2016 gold); Argentina (1988 bronze)
Olympic bronze-medal match record: Brazil (0-1); Argentina (1-1)
NCAA players on Brazil roster: None
NCAA players on Argentina roster: None
What to know: Two South American rivals will meet with the final spot on the Olympic medal podium on the line as Brazil and Argentina play in the bronze-medal match. Brazil’s attempt to repeat as Olympic gold medalists ended with a four-game loss to Russia in the semifinals.The team in that match won the opening game and led 20-12 in the third game before Russia rallied to win that game in overtime and then won the fourth game to close out the match. Outside attacker Yoandy Leal in the loss had a team-high 17 kills on a .424 attack percentage. Leal enters the bronze-medal match leading Brazil and among the tournament leaders with 89 kills at the Olympics. Along with Leal’s offensive performance, Brazil has two players leading the Olympics in defensive categories. Libero Thales Hoss has 63 digs — more than 10 digs than other player at the tournament. Middle attacker Lucas Saatkamp also has tournament-best 21 blocks, including a match-high four blocks in the semifinals. Argentina is making its first bronze-medal match appearance since 2000 and is attempting to win the nation’s first Olympic men’s volleyball medal since 1988. Opposite Bruno Lima leads all players with 108 kills but was limited to eight kills on a .158 attack percentage in a three-game loss to France in the semifinals. Lima during the preliminary round had a match-high 22 kills and hit .385 in a near-upset five-game loss to Brazil.