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Rio Olympics: U.S. men fall to Italy in volleyball semifinals

From left, USA's Taylor Sander, USA's Erik Shoji,

From left, USA's Taylor Sander, USA's Erik Shoji, USA's David Lee, USA's Matthew Anderson, USA's Micah Christenson, USA's Maxwell Holt and USA's Aaron Russell watch the screen after a challenge was called during the men's semi-final volleyball match between Italy and USA at Maracanazinho Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 19, 2016, at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images / JUAN MABROMATA

The Italians have ended the gold-medal aspirations for the U.S. men’s volleyball team in a second straight Olympics.

Italy won 30-28, 26-28, 9-25, 25-22, 15-9. The Italians closed it out and players fell to the floor in joy, piling on each other.

David Lee brought his American teammates into a huddle and embrace, then Matt Anderson and Taylor Sander clapped to the crowd in appreciation as the U.S. players waited at the net to shake hands after this memorable one.

In the fifth, Osmany Juantorena served an ace for 12-8 and Aaron Russell let a ball drop in for 13-9 as Max Holt covered his face with his uniform shirt.

After an embarrassing fourth set flop, Italy forced a deciding fifth set by closing out the fourth on a 6-0 run — getting three straight aces by Ivan Zaytsev, including the second-to-last point that was initially called long but overturned on review for set point.

The Italians will face either defending champion Russia or host Brazil in Sunday afternoon’s championship, to be determined from the late Friday semifinal. The Americans will play for bronze, just like the top-ranked U.S. women after their stunning five-set defeat to Serbia a day earlier.

New York Sports