Team USA’s women’s volleyball team suffered its second consecutive defeat, losing to host Italy, 25-23, 25-22, 25-20, and making its bid to win an FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship a difficult challenge. The match attracted a crowd of 11,660 in Milan’s Mediolanum Forum.
The No. 2-ranked Americans will face Russia, the two-time defending world champions, Thursday, and Team USA needs to win then to keep its world championship title hopes alive. Italy, ranked No. 4 in the world, will face Russia Friday. The semifinals are set for Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the top-ranked Brazilians, who defeated Team USA in the second round, cruised past China 25-19, 25-16, 25-15, to win their 10th match of the tournament. Brazil, which is the host country for the next Olympic Games in 2016, has won 31 of 33 world championship matches. The team’s only losses have come in the finals in 2006 and 2010.
Team USA, coached by three-time Olympic champion Karch Kiraly, was leading Italy in the first set, 22-19, before the Italians rallied to win the set, 25-23. The Americans lost the second set as Italy ended that set on an ace. The Italians dominated the third set, building an early 8-3 lead.
The Italians were paced by Antonella Del Core’s 15 points and strong play by Nadia Centoni. Team USA’s top scorers were Jordan Larson-Burbach and Kelly Murphy, who each had 10 points.
Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. She has covered five Olympic Games and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.