Clay Stanley, left, of the U.S. reacts during the men's quarterfinal… (Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty…)
LONDON -- The U.S. stunned the men's volleyball world in the 2008 Olympics, streaking to its first gold medal in 20 years.
The only surprise this time was how quickly the U.S. was eliminated.
Italy won a quarterfinal match, 28-26, 25-20, and 25-20, ending the U.S. run Wednesday at Earls Court. The U.S. was the top-seeded team after preliminary play but never won a set after that.
The U.S. was in trouble from the start against Italy, failing to convert three set points and ultimately losing the first set on Dragan Travica's ace.
The second set wasn't so great either for the U.S., which fell behind, 12-9, as the Italians started finding holes in the defense at the net.
The U.S. seemed disjointed all afternoon, no play more indicative than a miscommunication early in the third set. Richard Lambourne dug a ball in the back, but setter Donald Suxho and opposite hitter Clay Stanley each thought the other would set it.
The ball fell to the floor. Point, Italy.
The match ended on Michal Lasko's kill.
About the only thing the U.S. did well was block in the first set, but even that faded from there.
Stanley had 12 kills and no other player was in double figures for the U.S.
Ivan Zaytsev had 15 kills for Italy, and Cristian Savani added 14.
Italy plays Brazil in a semifinal Friday. The U.S. goes home, fully unable to recapture its run of four years ago.
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