Iran continues to impress
Playing in its first Olympics, the Iran men's volleyball team has turned in an impressive showing through the first four days of preliminary action in Rio.
Iran was swept by Argentina in its first match, but they've since settled in, taking the No. 2 team in the world (Poland) to the brink on Day 2 and then coming out with back-to-back sweeps, including Saturday's sweep of Egypt (28-26, 25-22, 25-16).
Shahram Mahmoudi had a strong game with 21 points and two blocks for Iran, which converted an efficient 47 for 88 serves in the match.
Egypt, meanwhile, has been a part of four sweeps in four matches in Rio, though it came on the wrong end of three of those.
As such, Egypt's hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals have been put to rest with only three points in four matches.
Iran, meanwhile, will play on, earning a spot in the quarterfinals and looking to keep its Cinderella run going.
Argentina sets down Cuba
Argentina had no trouble with Cuba Saturday, sweeping in straight sets (25-16, 25-14, 25-26).
Cuba tallied just five blocks in the match and handed Argentina 23 points on unforced errors.
Even before play began Saturday, the only drama left for Argentina was where it would slot in the quarterfinals. Argentina currently sits with nine points and in a battle with Poland for the top seed in Pool B.
Cuba is now officially eliminated from quarterfinals play, losing 12 of 13 sets in Rio to date.
Russia narrowly escapes with win over Poland
Russia-Poland was a highly-anticipated matchup and it did not disappoint Saturday afternoon.
The Russians are the defending gold medalists while Poland is currently ranked No. 2 in the world.
Naturally, the match went to five sets, with Russia narrowly pulling out the victory (25-18, 16-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-13).
While Russia went with a more balanced attack featuring five players with double digit points (Maxim Mikhaylov was the leader with 18), Poland leaned heavily on Bartosz Kurek, who had 36 points on 31 spikes (and even added three blocks and a pair of service aces to boot).
The two teams are neck-in-neck with Argentina in Pool B entering the final day of prelims.
With the No. 1 seed still to be decided, Poland will play Cuba while Russia has to contend with Iran Monday.
USA stays alive
Team USA has had to play with its back against the wall the last two matches, but they've delivered, pulling out six points and now have a legitimate shot at cracking the quarterfinals.
It wasn't easy Saturday, taking down a French team that began the day tied for second place in Pool A.
But Matt Anderson and Co. prevailed and will head into the final day of preliminary play with six points before a match against a Mexican team that sits in dead last in Pool A.
France will need to play Brazil, the top-ranked team in the world.
Canada steamrolls Mexico
Canada jumped out to a 6-0 lead to open the match against Mexico and never looked back en route to a three-set sweep (25-20, 25-13, 25-22).
Mexico actually mustered up a little competition in the first and third sets, but they had no answer for Canada in the second set.
The Canadians converted a ridiculous 12 of 18 spikes in the second set and went on to nearly double Mexico's score.
In the third set, Mexico actually jumped out to an 8-4 lead before Canada took over.
The three points puts Canada in a three-way tie with the U.S. and France for third place in Pool A with one day left of play.
Mexico has been officially eliminated from advancing to the quarterfinals, sitting in last in Pool A with zero points, managing to win just one of its 13 sets in Rio.
Italy stays hot as Brazil's slump continues
Brazil entered the Rio Games as the No. 1 team in the world. Couple that with raucous home crowd every night as the host and it wouldn't have been a surprise to see Brazil win every match in the preliminary stage.
Instead, the Brazilians have now lost two straight matches in four sets, failing to pick up a point in either one after Italy's victory Saturday (23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-15).
That means the hosts will now have to come up with a win on the final day of preliminaries Monday, squaring off against France.
A win and the Brazilians will move on to the quarterfinals. A loss and they may very well miss out on advancing.
Italy, meanwhile, is now 4-0 in the preliminary stage, winning 12 of 14 sets and earning 12 points in the process. That's good enough for the No. 1 seed in Pool A heading into the quarterfinals