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Jeff Roberson, Associated Press
United States' David Lee, left, and William Priddy block a spike from Italy's Michal Lasko, right, during a men's quarterfinal volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, in London.

LONDON — The defending Olympic champion U.S. men's volleyball team has been eliminated from the London Games with a straight-set quarterfinal loss to Italy.

The fifth-ranked United States struggled to defend captain Cristian Savani, who had 19 points in the 28-26, 25-20, 25-20 victory for the sixth-ranked Italians.

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U.S. setter Donald Suxho bent over with his hands on his knees and shook his head as Italy celebrated the win at Earls Court. And after shaking hands with the Italians, the Americans turned to applaud the many U.S. fans in the crowd.

The United States won the gold medal in Beijing, upsetting favorite Brazil 3-1. It was their third gold in men's volleyball, which became and Olympic sport in 1964. Russia is the only other nation with three.

Italy has never won the Olympic gold, but the teams has won silver twice, most recently at the 2004 Athens Games.