Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 18, 2016 - Italy and USA will meet in the first semifinal of the men’s volleyball tournament at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracanazinho on Friday.
The two teams have met 47 times on the global stage. Italy have won 26 of these encounters, losing the other 21 to USA.
Italians and Americans crossed ways at six different Olympic Games, including all of the most recent five editions – Barcelona 1992, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. The European side won four of these encounters, including the two most recent ones, on August 8, 2012 in the British capital, by 3-0 (28-26, 25-20, 25-20), and in a Pool A clash here, in Rio, on August 9 by 3-1 (28-26, 20-25, 25-23, 25-23).
The two squads also met twice in this year’s FIVB Volleyball World League. On June 26 in Rome, the home team lost by 0-3 (22-25, 23-25, 23-25), but then took a revenge on July 14 at the finals in Poland claiming a 3-1 (25-22, 27-25, 26-28, 25-21) victory.
Italy have never climbed all the way to the Olympic top, but for them this is the sixth consecutive participation among the best four teams at the Games. This amazing series started with the silver medal from Atlanta 1996. At London 2012, the southern Europeans finished third and a win against USA on Friday would be a step up from this achievement. They reached the semifinals at Rio 2016 after winning Pool A and shutting out Iran in the quarterfinals.
The top five of the Best Scorers chart of the tournament features two Italian players. Ivan Zaytsev is third with 89 points and Osmany Juantorena is fourth with 88.
The Italian squad also boasts the best setter of the competition so far – Simone Giannelli, who is the current leader of that individual ranking.
For the North Americans making the semifinals is already an improvement from their fifth place at London 2012, but they have already been Olympic champions three times – at Los Angeles 1984, at Seoul 1988 and at Beijing 2008. USA got to this stage of the tournament at Rio 2016 after finishing third in Pool A and then beating Poland in straight sets at the quarterfinal stage.
Aaron Russell has made 91 points in the competition, second only to Brazil’s Wallace de Souza. Mathew Anderson with 82 points is fifth in the Best Scorers chart.
With an average of 0.43 aces per set each, Maxwell Holt and Taylor Sander share the top spot on the Best Servers ranking. Their American teammate Erik Shoji leads the Best Diggers chart and splits the number one position on the Best Receivers ranking with Taylor Sander.