Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 16, 2016 - Four years ago in London, Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai experienced the “high” of eliminating the defending Olympic championships from the London 2012 Summer Games only to be ousted in the quarter-finals.
Here late Monday evening in the Beach Volleyball competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Italians experienced the “high” of winning the quarter-finals to advance to Tuesday’s semi-finals by eliminating Dmitri Barsouk and Nikita Liamin of Russia 2-0 (21-18, 20-22, 15-11) in a 53-minute match at the 12,000-seat “Coliseu on Copacabana”.
With the win, Lupo and Nicolai evened the international series between the two teams at 1-1 as the Italians won their fourth match in six Copacabana appearances. After winning only once in three pool matches to drop into the “lucky loser” playoff, Lupo and Nicolai have now won three-straight elimination matches.
In becoming the first Italian men’s or women’s team to reach the Olympic semi-finals, Lupo and Nicolai will play the winner of the match between Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Konstantin Semenov of Russia and Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez of Cuba. Both teams each won all three of their pool matches and scored an opening elimination win.
After the two teams split the first two sets, the Italians broke from a 5-5 tie to take a 10-6 lead in the deciding set as Nicolai compiled a block, two successful attacks and two aces in the 5-1 run. The Russians rallied to cut the Italian lead to 10-9 and 11-10, but a long rally featuring a Lupo dig, a Nicolai block and a successful roll shot by Lupo started a 4-1 by the winners to end the match.
Nicolai’s fifth block of the match ended the contest as the Italian now leads the competition with 27 stuffs. He is also tied for second in total aces with 11. Benefitting from playing an extra match, Lupo is the top men’s scorer in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with 142 points for 16 sets. Of the total, 138 points have been successful attacks (58 percent hitting percentage).