Italy beat the USA in a twisting four-setter, 25-22, 27-25, 26-28, 25-21, on Thursday in FIVB World League Super Final volleyball action in Krakow, Poland.
The U.S. has not won its opening match in the Final Six tournament since 2007.
Matt Anderson did his best with 21 points but it was not enough.
"We put ourselves in a difficult situation. We are disappointed, we didn't start well, the first 16 points were really weak," American captain David Lee said. "I think we had a chance to win second and fourth set, but we lost where we could take easy points. We need to fix it."
This was the 25th World League meeting between these teams in the World League and Italy now lead the ledger having 13 of these encounters.
The Americans opened the match with two technical errors and lacked concentration from the beginning as a feast of faults continued throughout the first part of the game. Aaron Russell twice hit outside the line while referee Heike Kraft whistled for a net touch as Italy led 8-3.
"We are disappointed," U.S. coach John Speraw said. "Italy played a lot better than when we met in Rome. I expected it, because they are a great team. We looked like a team that has not played for last few weeks. We weren't sharp. There were too many opportunities we had when we should have passed or set the ball better when we had a chance to do it."