The preliminary round is over and it’s time for the “win or go home” quarterfinal matches.  The winners of those 4 matches are guaranteed to be playing for Gold or Bronze on the last day of the Olympics.

By far the biggest surprise of the tournament has been Bulgaria.  We played them in the World League finals in early July and their team was in disarray because after the European Olympic Qualifier their head coach was fired/quit (depends on whose side you believe) and their best player and setter quit.  They did not play very well and ended up losing the 3rd place match to Cuba.

It is apparent that between then and now they’ve figured some things out.  They cruised past Great Britain, upset Poland—arguably the best team in the world—in the 2nd match of the tournament, then beat Australia, who barely lost to Italy and also upset Poland today, before they finally lost a match, in 4 to Argentina.  An hour ago they won the group with another surprising victory, this time over Italy.

So that group has been in upheaval.  Had Italy won today they would have won the group, but now they are 4th, making them our opponent in the quarterfinals Wednesday.   Bulgaria finished first and will play Germany, the 4th place team from our group.

Later tonight after the last match they will have the drawing of lots to determine who will play who between the 2nd and 3rd place teams from each group.  They do this to prevent throwing matches to get a desirable crossover.

Go USA!!