Roughly 24 hours after the Brazil women’s volleyball team wept on the floor of the Maracanãzinho arena, the men’s squad cried tears of joy.
Relief swept over Rio as the men’s volleyball team advanced to the semifinals with a narrow win over Argentina in four sets (25-22, 17-25, 25-19, 25-23) Wednesday night.
The women’s team had been ousted from the tournament Tuesday night behind an inspired effort from China, stunning the crowd and sending shockwaves through the volleyball world.
The Brazilian men came into the Olympics ranked No. 1 in the world, but struggled in the group stage and needed a win in the final match of the preliminary round to earn a trip to the quarterfinals as the fourth and final seed from Pool A.
Brazil pulled out the first set Wednesday night, but let Argentina back into it with a sloppy second set. After responding well in the third set, Brazil had a chance to pull away in the final set but instead allowed Argentina to hang around with momentum-stalling service faults.
But Argentina made their own mistakes Wednesday night, the biggest coming on a service fault to break a 23-23 tie in the fourth set and give Brazil a match point it did not relinquish.
Wallace de Souza tallied 24 points on 24 spikes in the match while Lucas Saatkamp recorded 11 points and some big-time spikes in the fourth set to help close things out.
The Brazilians will take on Russia in the semifinals Friday and will get a shot to play for a medal in front of their home crowd.