London, England – The United States suffered just its second loss of the London Games on Wednesday, but it is one that will prevent it from defending its gold in the men's volleyball tournament.
The U.S. dropped its quarterfinal match to Italy after losing only once in pool play, a five-set defeat at the hands of Russia. However, the Americans didn't win a set versus Italy, falling 28-26, 25-20, 25-20.
Clayton Stanley, among those rested in the final game before the knockout round, led the U.S. with 16 points, but the front line had no answer for Italy's Cristian Savani, who racked up 14 of his team-leading 19 points on spikes.
"We weren't as crisp as we were throughout the pool. We've got a lot of work to do, this is a growing experience. A lot of players have got experience. I look forward to playing some more," said Stanley, the team's captain.
Ivan Zaytsev added 16 points for Italy, which went 3-2 in pool play and is coming off a fourth-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Games after winning silver four years earlier.
Next up for Italy in the semifinals on Friday will be Brazil, which bested Argentina in straight sets earlier in the day to advance.
Brazil, which finished second in Pool B, notched a 25-19, 25-17, 25-20 victory, getting 14 points from Murilo Endres. The Brazilians rolled despite leading scorer Leandro Vissotto Neves exiting in the first set with a right leg injury.
Without the 6-foot-11 Vissotto Neves, Sidnei dos Santos Junior chipped in with 12 points, nine on spikes.
Brazil is aiming to medal in its third straight Olympic Games, taking gold eight years ago in Athens prior to a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, where it lost in the final to the U.S.
The other semifinal match will pit Russia against Bulgaria.
Russia, which has won a bronze medal in each of the last two Olympic Games, downed Poland in straight sets, 25-17, 25-23, 25-21.
Bulgaria also did not lose a set in advancing. It bested Germany 25-20, 25-16, 25-14 in the final game of the night.
Bulgaria is looking to medal at the Summer Olympics for the first time since a silver in 1980.