Maxim Mikhaylov scored 13 points to help Russia defeat Poland in straight sets Wednesday and advance to the men’s volleyball semifinals at the London Games.
Dmitriy Muserskiy added 12 points in the 25-17,25-23,25-21 victory for second-ranked Russia,which will play the winner of the late match between Bulgaria and Germany on Friday.
Zbigniew Bartman scored 14 points for No. 3 Poland,cheered by the mass of supporters who have been to every match at Earls Court,singing and chanting ”Polska! Polska!”
With the victory,Russia takes a 3-2 advantage over Poland in Olympic matches.
Arguably,the most memorable meeting between the two teams came in the gold-medal match at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Russia was up 2-1 and led the fourth 15-14,but Poland roared back to win it in a five-set marathon.
It remains Poland’s only gold in men’s volleyball.
Russia and Poland were among the favorites to medal in London,but the Poles will go home empty-handed.
Russia cruised through the first set,winning it when Jakub Jarosz of Poland served into the net. Mikhaylov’s kill claimed the second set to quiet the Polish fans.
Poland simply could not keep pace with the bigger and stronger Russians,who won the match on Alexander Volkov’s kill.
The Russians are vying for their fourth Olympic gold medal.
Russia and the United States sit atop the table with three golds each in volleyball,which became an Olympic sport in 1964. But the last time the Russians won a gold was when the Soviet Union came first in 1980.
The defending Olympic champion U.S. men’s team was eliminated earlier in the day with a straight-sets quarterfinal loss to No. 6 Italy.
The Italians will face Brazil in the other semifinal Sunday,after the Brazilians swept Argentina in the first match of the day.