The American men have eliminated the defending Nations League champions and the world’s #4-ranked team Russia from the 2018 FIVB World Championship tournament. As a result of a 3-0 win (full recap to follow), the Americans and Brazil (who beat Russia in a come-from-behind 3-2 result on Wednesday), the Americans and Brazil both have 1 win in the pool. Russia has 0 wins, meaning that the Brazilians and Americans are guaranteed of advancement to the semi-finals even before they play on Friday.
Brazil and the US will still have some impact from their Friday match: whomever wins takes the pool (the US is playing to remain undefeated), and will then get the runner-up from Pool J. But, it’s not obvious that there’s much advantage to playing the #2 team in Pool J – Serbia yesterday shocked in a 3-0 thumping of hosts Italy, and Poland hasn’t yet lost with Michal Kubiak on the court. Since the US and Brazil play the first match, they won’t necessarily have a total sense of who will be #1 and who will be #2 in the group – unless Serbia beats Poland in the late game on Thursday. Then, the Serbians would be locked in at the top of Pool J, and the winner of the Poland/Italy match would be ranked #2.
This marks the 3rd-straight tournament in which Russia has finished in 5th place at the World Championships. Their last medal came in 2002, and their last win came in the era of the Soviet Union in 1982.
Brazil, meanwhile, has assured themselves of a top 4 finish for the 8th time in 9 events, dating back to their runner-up finish in 1982. Brazil has advanced to the last 4 finals, and won in 2002, 2006, and 2010 before losing to Poland in 2014.The U.S. men advance to the semi-finals for the first time since 1994, where they won bronze.