The United States men's volleyball team leads the Olympic schedule for Saturday with a huge matchup against France. The Americans are coming off a much-needed win over defending silver medalist Brazil following back-to-back losses to open their run in Rio, and could strengthen their odds of reaching the quarterfinals with another victory.
The U.S.-France match will be televised at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, though it is just one of six matches on Friday. Poland vs. Russia will be a part of MSNBC's television coverage, and Canada-Mexico will be on NBC Universo. All six Saturday matches will be streamed online by NBC Sports.
Losses to Canada and Italy in their first two Olympic matches put the U.S. in a massive hole in the group stage. The team bounced back with a 3-1 victory over Brazil on Wednesday, but still sits just fifth in Group A. Italy leads with nine points, while France and Brazil each have six, Canada and the U.S. each have three and Mexico has zero. If the quarterfinals began right now, the Americans would not advance because Canada owns the tiebreaker for the fourth spot.
That would be a disappointing ouster for the U.S, which is why beating France is so important. The Americans' odds of advancing to the quarterfinals improve significantly if they can win Saturday by a score of 3-0 or 3-1 and pull even with the French at six points apiece. Canada's final two matches are against Italy and Mexico, so if they split those games, the U.S. will have a tough time getting in if it doesn't win out.
A loss to France would make the final match against Mexico a must-win just to have a chance to advance, which wouldn't be a certainty. The Americans' best chance of ensuring a spot in the quarterfinals is to win these final two matches, and that will start with the tougher of the two Saturday.
Saturday indoor volleyball coverage
All times Eastern (click on each for online stream)
Men's pool play
8:30 a.m. - Iran vs. Egypt
10:30 a.m. - Argentina vs. Cuba
2 p.m. - Poland vs. Russia (MSNBC)
4 p.m. - United States vs. France (NBC)
7:30 p.m. - Canada vs. Mexico (NBC Universo)
9:30 p.m. - Brazil vs. Italy
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