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Olympic Men's Volleyball: Defending champions U.S. out, Bulgaria back to semis in 22 years

08-09-2012 10:07 BJT Special Report:2012 London Olympic Games |

LONDON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- World No. 1 Brazil will face Italy, while two east European powerhouses Russia and Bulgaria will meet in men's volleyball semifinals at the London Olympics after the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The drama of the day came as the defending champion America was stunned by Italy in straight sets.

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 American 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.

"It is a very difficult time. We knew it would be a tough match against great serves and hitters. It was a tough first set where we did have some chances. But then we didn't respond well in the second set," said America's head coach Alan Knipe.

"It was very disappointing knowing that we will not be playing for a medal, but the big picture is very bright. We have a very good group of young players playing in the US right now," said Knipe.

While, Bulgaria upset Germany 3-0 to return to the top four of the Olympic arena for the first time since striking silver in Moscow back in 1980.

In what was a very one-sided game, Bulgaria was paced once again by Tsvetan Sokolov with 22 points including three blocks while Gyorgy Grozer topped the table for Germany in a losing effort by registering 12.

"I still can't realise what we did, I just want to say congratulations to the boys and all the staff for their brilliant play so far," said head coach Nayden Naydenov.

Captain Vladimir Nikolov called the victory "a fairy tale".

"I am so proud of our team, with all the problems we have had this summer. I hope our fairytale will continue to the end," he said.

In another two quarterfinals, world No. 1 Brazil easily downed neighbours Argentina 3-0 in the opening match of the day, while Russia, ranked world No. 2, ended Poland's dreams of a remake of the glorious days from the 1976 Montreal Olympics with another straight-set win.

The semifinals will be played on Friday.

On the women's side, the semifinals, scheduled on Thursday, are virtually a tussle between Asians and Americans, as Japan will play defending champion Brazil and South Korea will face world No. 1 America.



Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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