Italy are favourites to win gold in the men’s final


Ivan Zaytsev served five of Italy's 10 aces in their 3-2 win over USA in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's semifinal

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 19, 2016 – Italy’s excellent service game was at its best in their 3-2 win over the United States in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men’s volleyball semifinals at Maracanazinho on Friday.

All coaches and captains agreed that Italy’s aces in the match made the difference. John Speraw pointed out that Italy’s excellent performance in the tournament have made them the favourites to win the Olympic gold medal.

Gianlorenzo Blengini, Coach of Italy:
I always say that we are satisfied with the result ever time we win, but today’s victory is just incredible after winning a tough match like this gives me a different feeling. The match had different phases, as there are many shifts in momentum from both teams. The maturity of my team made this match incredible. I am just glad to get this very important result. Ivan Zaytsev played so well and he showed great character in this match. His service was excellent and he helped us a lot to win this match.

Emanuele Birarelli, Captain of Italy:
This was an incredible match. We had a great fourth set and a great finish in the fifth set. We just took a lot of risk in the fourth set by watching, but we had great attitude and personality to fight until the end. Our goal was to get close but Zaytsev showed tremendous character in the fourth set when he scored three aces. We showed our strength in this match and our service game was key in crucial moments in the fourth set, as well as the crucial moments of the match.

John Speraw, Coach of USA:
I am disappointed but I know that my players gave everything that they could. When you have two good teams like this, you should expect a lot of fight from both sides. I don’t think we will ever regret the way we played here. Italy played terrific volleyball. They are the favourites to win the gold medal match. Now, we just have to regroup because it’s another tough match against one of the two great teams that will play in the next semifinal.

David Lee, Captain of USA:
It’s hard for us to accept this loss because we had so many opportunities in this match. Italy served a lot of aces that’s why they won. They are a great serving team and can keep themselves in matches just from the service line. They can earn a lot of points from that area and that can make a lot of difference in a match. There were obviously highs and lows in this match. We were on such a high in the third and fourth sets, then we had a little low energy towards the end, and they took advantage of that.


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