Karch Kiraly’s top-ranked U.S. women’s team moved one step closer to its goal of capturing the Americans’ first volleyball gold, defeating Japan in straight sets Tuesday to reach the semifinals. The U.S. won 25-16, 25-23, 25-22 and has dropped five sets all tournament.
RIO DE JANEIRO – The U.S. women’s volleyball team knows Japan so well that long points are a given. Patience is a must. Against perhaps the best defensive team in the world, balls are going to come back across the net.
Coach Karch Kiraly’s top-ranked Americans moved one step closer to their goal of capturing the program’s first volleyball gold medal, defeating familiar opponent Japan in straight sets Tuesday to reach the semifinals.
“Before we go into any match with Japan, we have to know we need to have a lot of patience,” outside hitter Kim Hill said.
The unbeaten United States won 25-16, 25-23, 25-22 and has dropped a mere five sets all tournament. The Americans (6-0) will face Serbia, a straight-sets winner over Russia, in Thursday’s semifinals.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Seahawks trade Frank Clark to Kansas City Chiefs for package including 2019 first-round draft pick
- In Seahawks' 'very challenging' situation, here's why it made sense to trade Frank Clark | Matt Calkins
- How a baseball bat helped former Husky Jake Browning improve his NFL draft stock
- Seahawks QB Russell Wilson gifts his offensive linemen $12,000 each in Amazon stock
- Seahawks solve one problem but create another by trading Frank Clark to Chiefs | Larry Stone
“Our approach is the same every time, so that didn’t even really feel like an Olympic quarterfinal match,” Kiraly said. “That’s good. We’re just playing volleyball against Japan.”
The United States won’t be playing volleyball against two-time defending champion Brazil. The hosts were upset by China, which rallied from losing the first set to win 15-13 in the decisive fifth set. Brazil’s players were in tears afterward.
China will face the Netherlands, which beat South Korea in four sets. The Dutch are in their first Olympics in 20 years and went 4-1 in group play behind the Americans
The United States has faced Japan more times than any other team since 1983. The Americans have won the last three meetings on the Olympic stage against Japan, opening the 2008 Beijing Games with a four-set victory and sweeping Japan in a match at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
“They have a lot of fight in them, so it took a lot of patience on our end, and regrouping and resetting,” U.S. middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo said. “I was proud of the team we were able to get it out in three sets.”
Japan, one of the top defensive teams in the world, had a 7-0 run in the third set before the Americans closed it out. The Americans, who settled for silver at the last two Olympics, are two victories from gold.
“I don’t have any expectations. Others may have them, but I don’t,” said Kiraly, the only person to win gold as a player in beach and indoor volleyball.
Serbia lost in four sets to the United States during pool play, but pulled off a surprising five-set victory at last year’s World Cup in Japan that forced the Americans to qualify for Rio in Lincoln, Neb., in January.