Italy shuts down Iran, moves on to play U.S. in semifinal

Apart from one match in which there was nothing to play for, Italy has looked like the most dominant men’s volleyball team in Rio.

That continued Wednesday as the Italians dispatched Iran in straight sets (31-29, 25-19, 25-17) in the quarterfinals and will advance to play the U.S. in the semifinals Friday.

Italy is now 5-1 in Rio play with the only loss coming against Canada on the final day of prelims when the Italians had already locked up the No. 1 seed in Pool A and Canada was playing for one of the final quarterfinal spots.

On Wednesday, Italy staved off the early charge from Iran in the first set and it was smooth sailing from there.

Iran capitalized on a sloppy Italy team to start, collecting five of its first 10 points on Italian service faults.

But Italy ultimately won the first set in extra time, led by Osmany Juantorena and his 8-for-10 success rate on spikes to kick things off. Juantorena finished with 16 points and a block.

Ivan Zaytsev scored 18 points with two aces and a block while Filippo Lanza tallied 11 points. No Iranian player scored in double digits.

The Italians converted on 52 of its 87 spikes throughout the match and if they didn’t hand Iran 24 points on unforced errors, the scoring margin would’ve been a lot different.

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