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Monday August 6, 2012 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday June 1, 2013 MYT 6:29:34 PM
by nigel hunt
LONDON (Reuters) - Australia's young team kept alive their slim chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the men's Olympic volleyball tournament on Monday with an upset victory over Pool A powerhouses Poland.
Serbia's hopes of reaching the knockout phase all but ended in Pool B after a comprehensive loss against Russia.
Poland have already qualified for the quarter-finals but threw away the chance to top the group with a 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 25-22) loss despite vociferous support from an Earl's Court arena filled with red and white flags and banners.
"It has been an amazing tournament for us. It is clear how the team have evolved day-by-day," Australia's coach Jon Uriate said after the team rebounded from 3-0 losses to Argentina and Bulgaria to almost topple Italy and then defeat Poland.
"I think we showed already against Italy that we could win against a top team and this group (of players) is very smart," Uriate, who won a bronze medal as a player for Argentina in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, told reporters.
Uriate became Australia's coach in May 2011 and has rebuilt the team following the retirement of many senior players at the end of the 2010/11 season.
"The evolution in 13 months has been huge," he said.
Australia need a massive upset to progress when a lowly ranked British team, who have yet to win a set in the tournament, face Argentina later on Monday.
"Argentina is a pretty high level team and have been playing good volleyball so it will be tough (for Britain to win)," Australian opposite spiker Edgar Thomas told reporters.
Poland's coach Andrea Anastasi was grim faced after the defeat which could result in a quarter-final against either Russia or Brazil.
"We lost control in the beginning and we were not really fighting. I have no explanation," he said.
Italy's match against Bulgaria later on Monday is now set to decide which team tops Pool A. Both teams are already through to the quarter-final stage.
In Pool B, Russia easily beat Serbia 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-17) to book their place in the quarter-finals.
The result leaves Serbia's hopes resting on Germany suffering a heavy defeat against Brazil later on Monday.
Russia, bronze medallists in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, have won three consecutive matches since losing to Brazil earlier in the tournament including a 3-2 victory over Beijing gold medallists the United States.
The Americans should, however, still seal top spot in Pool B against already eliminated Tunisia later on Monday.
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