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U.S. men’s volleyball team reaches world championship medal round

U.S. men's volleyball

The undefeated U.S. men’s volleyball team swept Russia to reach the final four of the world championship in Italy on Thursday.

The Americans are guaranteed their best finish at the quadrennial worlds since their last medal, a bronze in 1994. The U.S.’ lone world title came in 1986, though it since earned Olympic titles in 1988 and 2008.

They’re joined in the medal round by Rio Olympic champion Brazil and two of Italy (Rio silver medalist), Serbia and Poland (defending world champ). The U.S. (9-0) is the only remaining undefeated team, after downing Russia 25-22, 25-23, 25-23.

Semifinals are Saturday, and the gold- and bronze-medal matches are Sunday.

The U.S. has been paced by tournament stat leaders setter Micah Christenson, outside hitters Aaron Russell and Taylor Sander and opposite Matt Anderson, all bronze medalists from Rio.

This Olympic cycle is the first for the U.S. men without any ties to its 2008 Olympic champion team (so far). The two gold medalists who made the Rio roster -- David Lee and Reid Priddy -- spent the summer playing beach volleyball on the AVP tour.

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