With superb performance Italy down USA to make it to Olympic semis
After a very close first set where Italy came back from behind, the side mentored by Mauro Berruto played some world-class volleyball to cruise to a quick win that came as a surprise, as USA was seen as a force to reckon with on the quest for Olympic gold. Cristian Savani top scored for Italy with 19 points, including 4 aces, with Ivan Zaytsev adding 16 to the count, exactly the same figure registered by USA captain Clayton Stanley. Italy played superbly from the serving line, scoring a total of 9 aces, and is back in contention for an Olympic medal after failing to achieve that feat four years ago in Beijing where it ended up in fourth place.
USA took an early lead in the first set, with captain Clayton Stanley, Russell Holmes and William Priddy all spiking and blocking with aggression, but Italy fought back hard with Cristian Savani and Ivan Zaytsev doing the damage. Italy saved three set points before converting one of their own, to win it 28-26.
Italy maintained the momentum in the second set as USA struggled to contain Savani and Zaytsev. David Lee, Stanley and Priddy all performed well, but USA’s leading scorer in the tournament so far, Matthew Anderson, was out of touch. Italy had more firepower and won the set 25-20.
USA regrouped in the third set, with setter Donald Suxho creating some great positions, but the USA spikers remained inconsistent. Italy’s leading points scorer in the tournament so far, Michal Lasko, began to fire alongside the brilliant Savani and Zaytsev. Italy got to 18-15 and defended the narrow lead to take the set 25-20, and the match.