The Brazil men’s volleyball team had to wait four long years for revenge, but they finally got it Friday night in the Maracanãzinho arena.
At the London Olympics in 2012, Russia came from behind to snatch the gold medal away from Brazil. It was the second straight silver for Brazil after losing to the U.S. at the Beijing Games in 2008.
Playing in front of a wild home crowd in Rio, the Brazilians absolutely worked over Russia and clinched a berth in their fourth straight gold medal match.
The 2004 gold medal winners fought off a Russia charge to take the first set but generally controlled the entire match and engineered a sweep in straight sets (25-21, 25-20, 25-17).
Wallace de Souza entered the match as the top scorer in the men’s tournament and lived up to that billing, chipping in another 18 points plus four blocks and a service ace.
The Brazilians badly needed a big game from Wallace with a slew of other stars injured – Ricardo Lucarelli (small tear in right quad) and Lipe Fonteles (back spasms) plus middle blocker Lucas Saatkamp was seen tending to his hand throughout Friday’s semifinal.
Brazil now takes on Italy in the gold medal match. The two teams squared off for the title in 2004, with the Brazilians beating the Italians.
Russia has a 2004 rematch of its own on its hands, playing against the U.S. in the bronze medal match. The Russians beat the Americans in the bronze medal match in Athens.