Olympics: Volleyball

U.S. women advance to volleyball gold medal match

The Americans celebrate winning a point in their semifinal against South Korea. (AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

The U.S. women’s volleyball team needed 75 minutes to sweep South Korea, 25-20, 25-22, 25-22, in the semifinals and advance to the gold medal match for the second straight Olympics. The Americans, who are 7-0 in London, will play the winner of the Brazil-Japan semifinal on Saturday.

An ace by Jordan Larson gave the U.S. a 23-21 advantage in the third set, and then kills from Destinee Hooker and Logan Tom finished off the match. Hooker finished with 21 kills for the U.S.; Kim Yeon-Koung, who entered the match with more kills (146) than any other player in the tournament, had 18 for South Korea.

The U.S. has never won a gold medal in women’s volleyball. The Americans lost in the final to Brazil in 2008 and to China in 1984.

U.S. women take two-set lead in volleyball semifinal

Yeon-Koung Kim spikes the ball, but the U.S. has a two-set lead over South Korea. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The U.S. battled to take a two-set lead, 25-20, 25-22, over South Korea in its women’s volleyball semifinal. Destinee Hooker leads the Americans with six kills.

The winner faces either Brazil or Japan, which meet in the second semifinal, in the gold medal match on Saturday.

U.S. men’s volleyball team falls to Italy

David Lee (center) and the U.S. men's volleyball team won't defend its gold medal. (AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

The United States’s bid to defend its Olympic gold in men’s volleyball ended in decisive fashion Wednesday. Italy swept the struggling Americans, winning the quarterfinal match 28-26, 25-20, 25-20.

The U.S. entered the tournament ranked No. 5 in the world and cruised to a 4-1 record in group play. But after a tight opening set, the Italians were in the driver’s seat in Wednesday’s quarterfinal match, executing well throughout the match and never giving up momentum earned in the emotional opening set.

In the final set, the U.S. team jumped out to a 6-4 lead, but then Italy went on an 8-1 run to take a 12-7 lead. The Americans clawed their way back, at one point cutting the Italy lead to just two points, 19-17. But they could get no closer.

Italy advances to the semifinals, where it will meet Brazil on Friday, and is trying for its first Olympic medal since taking silver at the Athens Games. The Italians have never won gold.

U.S. men’s volleyball team on ropes

William Priddy tries to keep the United States alive against Italy. (Andrew Medichini -- Associated Press)

The Italian men’s volleyball team ran away with the second set of its quarterfinal match, 25-20, and is just 25 points away from eliminating the United States, the defending Olympic champions.

The two squads were knotted at 16-apiece before Italy scored four unanswered points, en route to cruising to a two-set lead.

After managing eight blocks in the opening set, the Americans had only two in the second.

U.S. men’s volleyball falls behind early

Italy's players celebrate winning the first set of their men's volleyball quarterfinal against the U.S. (AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

Italy came from behind to grab the first set, 28-26, against the U.S. men’s volleyball team in Wednesday’s quarterfinal match.

Italy trailed by as many as four early, but clawed back and Ivan Zaytsev’s spike gave the Italians a 19-18 advantage. The score remained close from there, though the U.S. team reached set point when the Italians let William Priddy’s deep serve pass through. The officials ruled it an ace — even though replays indicated the serve might have landed beyond the back line — and the Americans took a 24-23 lead.

The U.S. team faced three set points but couldn’t convert, and Italy put the game away on its first set point. The Americans allowed Dragan Travica’s set to pass through, but the ball hit the back line to give Italy the first set.

Clayton Stanley accounted for 6 points for the Americans in the first set.

U.S. men face Italy in volleyball quarterfinals

Matthew Anderson, David Amith and David McKienzie defend during a preliminary round match against Tunisia. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GettyImages)

The U.S. men’s volleyball team wasn’t a favorite to medal here, but a win today would move the Americans a step closer to the podium.

The United States faces Italy in a quarterfinal match, after finishing group play earlier this week with a 4-1 record. Italy was 3-2. The American team’s lone black mark was a five-set loss to Russia, which snapped its 11-match winning streak in Olympic play.

Despite winning gold four years ago in the Beijing Games and taking silver in this year’s World League tournament, the U.S. squad came to London ranked fifth.

The U.S.-Italy winner will face Brazil — which beat Argentina, 25-19, 25-17, 25-20, in Wednesday’s first quarterfinal — in the semifinals on Friday. The other quarterfinal matchups today are: Poland vs. Russia and Bulgaria vs. Germany.

U.S. to meet South Korea in women’s volleyball semifinals

Kim Yeon-Koung (left) led South Korea with 23 kills in its quarterfinal win over Italy. (AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

South Korea rallied to defeat Italy, 18-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-18, in a women’s volleyball quarterfinal, earning a date with the U.S. in the semifinals at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday. The U.S. swept the Dominican Republic, 25-14, 25-21, 25-22, in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

Brazil meets Japan in the other semifinal at 2:30 p.m. ET at Earls Court. Both teams needed five sets to win their respective quarterfinals Tuesday; Brazil beat Russia, 24-26, 25-22, 19-25, 25-22, 21-19; and Japan edged China, 28-26, 23-25, 25-23, 23-25, 18-16.