The U.S. women's volleyball team came into the Rio Olympics as the top-ranked team with aspirations of winning the country's first gold medal in the event. That dream has been dashed, however, after a dramatic semifinal loss to Serbia.
After going undefeated to this point in Rio de Janeiro, Team USA dropped the semifinal showdown 3-2, with Serbia taking the final set 15-13 after rallying from a multiple-point deficit.
The U.S. got off to a good enough start, winning the first set 25-20 before Serbia won each of the next two, 25-17 and 25-21. In the process, star player Foluke Akinradewo went down with a leg injury and was unable to play the final three sets. The Americans managed to stay alive with a dominant fourth set, taking it 25-16.
The Serbians, ranked sixth in the world by the FIVB heading into the Olympics, were led by Tijana Boskovic, who had 18 kills in the match, and Brankica Mihajlovic, who had 17 to go along with five blocks. The two absolutely terrorized the U.S. at the net and were major factors in the decisive set.
When Serbia's final spike couldn't be controlled by the U.S., with the ball sailing out of bounds, the Serbians erupted. Team USA could only look on in disbelief as their quest for gold ended in stunning fashion.
Pure elation from the Serbian volleyball team as they comeback to defeat the USA in the semis. pic.twitter.com/IiOMqDi5xp— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) August 18, 2016
After the match, Team USA coach and volleyball legend Karch Kiraly told reporters "this one cuts deep."
Serbia now awaits the winner of the semifinal between the Netherlands and China. Team USA will take on the loser of that match in the bronze-medal game on Saturday morning.
The United States had won silver in women's volleyball in each of the last two Olympics.