Italy volleyball captain Emanuele Birarelli may be out until quarterfinals

Birarelli may be out until quarterfinals

Tests on the injured right ankle of Italy volleyball captain Emanuele Birarelli have revealed a grade-1 sprain, and he’s expected to return to Olympic action by the quarterfinals.

The Italian Volleyball Federation said Birarelli would miss a group-stage match against Mexico on Thursday. If the currently undefeated Italians are in a strong position after Thursday, he also might sit out Saturday against Brazil to make sure he is 100 percent when knockout matches begin for a team determined to improve on its bronze medal from the London Olympics four years ago.

The 35-year-old Birarelli will undergo treatment on the ankle and be evaluated each day before it is determined when he comes back. He was injured during the third set of a four-set victory against the United States on Tuesday night.

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