With terrific show of strength Russia end Poland's Olympic adventure
The players of coach Vladimir Alekno played on a class of their own by scoring 7 aces as Maxim Mikhaylov top scored with 13 points, with giant Dmitriy Muserskiy – the tallest player in the event at 217 cm – adding 12. Poland’s performance was pretty weak, with Zbigniew Bartman totalling 14 points, but generally the guys in white and red jerseys looked like a distant copy of the side that had totally dominated the finals of the FIVB World League only a few weeks ago. Russia will play the winner of the last 1/4 final starring Bulgaria and Germany in the semis coming up on Friday.
Russia started strongly and established a five-point lead over Poland with captain Taras Khtey dominating his side’s scoring. Dmitriy Muserskiy also came off the bench to add considerable height in attack as the tournament’s tallest player. Zbigniew Bartman kept Poland in touch but Russia pulled away and somewhat comfortably took the set 25-17.
The second set started in Poland’s favour - much to the delight of the thousands of passionate Poland fans packed inside Earls Court. Bartosz Kurek found some form at the net whilst Russia’s blocking power dropped off. However, they soon found their rhythm again, drawing level with Poland before leading 16-15 at the second technical time-out largely thanks to the ever-impressive Maxim Mikhaylov and Muserskiy and Russia went on to win the set 25-20.
Russia continued to dominate at the top of the third set as their power was just too much for Poland’s defence. Despite a mini-comeback from Poland who seemed to have lost early tournament form, Russia, who were searching for their third 3-0 result in four matches got it soon enough as Muserskiy tipped one over the net to put his side into the semi-finals of the Olympic tournament.