In a rematch of the 2016 semifinals, the United States avenged its loss to Serbia by downing the reigning silver medalists 3-0 to advance to the gold medal match.
The recipe for success was a combination of killer serves and aggressive blocks. Annie Drews recorded three of the Americans' six total aces, and strong defensive play extinguished the spark Serbia had throughout the rest of the tournament.
Team USA looked dominant early in Set 1 as it jumped to a 22-13 lead, but the Americans had trouble closing it out. Serbia fought back to save four set points, but the surge wasn't enough to overcome the deficit. The Americans claimed the first set 25-19.
Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley were phenomenal at the net all game but particularly in the second and third sets when they shut down Tijana Boskovic. The Serbian star had been the driving force behind her team's offense for much of the tournament, but Team USA minimized her productivity to overcome the rival that sent them to the bronze medal match in Rio. Noticeably absent from Serbia's lineup was Brankica Mihajlovic, who had a standout performance in the 2016 semifinals but stayed on the bench throughout this game.
Akinradewo Gunderson stuffed the final point of the second set to give the U.S. the 25-15 win and a 2-0 advantage. An ace from Drews in Set 3 set the tone, and the Americans held on to complete the sweep with a 25-23 victory.
After the match, the entire team took part in an interview, and Drews explained the significance of the players sticking together.
"Like it's been this whole tournament, we are 12 strong," she said. "We have depth, and we use everybody. We need everybody, and that's a huge strength for us."
Brazil sweeps Korea for spot in final
Brazil, the U.S. women’s opponents in Sunday's final, will be going for its third women's volleyball title.
Second-ranked Brazil, who had sealed a straight-sets victory over South Korea in the preliminary round, again overpowered the Koreans, winning 25-16 25-16 25-16 in 82 minutes. Outside hitter Fernanda Rodrigues led Brazil with 17 points.