During the London Olympics, I did a daily ‘Power Rankings’ after each round of matches. In the absence of any better ideas, I thought I would do the same again.
The first half of semi final day lived up to its billing. The second half did not. I am pleased that I picked the winners, if not the scores. Our rankings…
MEN’S OLYMPIC VOLLEYBALL POWER RANKINGS DAY 6
1 (1) ITALY – I don’t know how many records Italy broke yesterday. I don’t remember any 25-9 sets in Olympic volleyball. I know there were none in semi finals. I know for sure there were none in which the losing team went on to win the match. The first two sets were about as good as it is possible for volleyball to be. Comebacks, set points in both directions, great play from all twelve players. At the end the individual brilliance of Zaytsev and the ‘I’m finally at the Olympics I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose this’ play from Juantorena was enough to get Italy over the hump. Blengini was once Velasco’s assistant. He has a chance to do what his mentor never did. I think he will.
2 (2) BRAZIL – The sustained excellence that is required to make eight! consecutive major finals over the course of 14 years is fairly mindboggling. At some point I will go through and count the number of players who have participated in those 8 tournaments, but I did quickly count in my head 7 different setters. Regardless of the outcome of the final I don’t think there is any question that Bernardinho is the greatest coach in the history of international volleyball. And frankly it is not even close. They played the perfect game in the semi final. Bruno was great and Wallace will be MVP if they win tomorrow. He might be anyway. I don’t think they will win. But I am confident that Bernardinho will have them ready to go.
3 (3) USA – Watching the France – USA match earlier in the tournament I knew France would lose after the first point of the fourth set. All tournament USA had shown some shakiness against float serving. After winning the the third set on the back of several float serving runs and a set point ace by a Rouzier float serve, Rouzier went back and jump served the first serve. Italy did not make the same mistake and I feel like that was decisive. They played well enough to win the semi final and are certainly one of the best two teams in the tournament. But tournaments are a very special kind of animal.
4 (4) RUSSIA – I picked Brazil to win the semi final but when I looked at it logically I couldn’t think of any reason why they would except that they would. I still didn’t expect what transpired. After being unstoppable for the previous three matches, Mikhaylov did not have the same effectiveness and under pressure they made far too many errors, especially in attack. Still, after the problems they have had over the last two seasons the tournament must be seen as a major success for Alekno and he has introduced some players who will have a big influence on future tournaments. In the meantime, Tetyukhin’s career somehow deserves a fifth medal. Sadly, you don’t always get what you deserve. His career will not be worse because of it.
5 (5) POLAND
6 (6) ARGENTINA
7 (7) CANADA
8 (8) IRAN
9 (9) FRANCE
10 (10) EGYPT
11 (11) MEXICO
12 (12) CUBA
Italy over Brazil. USA over Russia. And a wonderful volleyball spectacle.
Olympic great Vyacheslav Platonov reveals his coaching secrets here.