The U.S. Women's National Team is one victory away from a repeat.
The Americans, ranked third in the world, defeated No. 2 China 25-11, 15-25, 25-17, 25-20 in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League semifinals Saturday in Nanjing, China.
Former Husker Kelsey Robinson started at outside hitter and had 14 kills on 24 swings and added an ace to help lead Team USA. Annie Drews had 16 kills, three aces and two blocks, and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley added 14 kills, four aces and three blocks. Team USA, now 15-3 in this year's VNL, will face No. 4 Brazil in Sunday's 6:30 a.m. gold-medal match. The winning team will receive $1 million.
The United States, which has won eight straight matches, won last year's event.
Brazil and the United States will be meeting for third time in this tournament. Brazil defeated the U.S. in four sets during preliminary-round play in Lincoln on June 6. The Americans avenged that on Friday during pool play, winning in four sets.
Team USA jumped to a 6-1 lead in the first set against China, which was playing without standout Zhu Ting. The United States rebounded from a second-set loss, jumping to a 16-8 lead in the third set. China closed to within four points, but kills from Robinson and Bartsch-Hackley gave the Americans a six-point cushion at 20-14.
China took an early 4-2 lead in the fifth set before Team USA gained a 9-8 lead. Robinson hammered kills on each side of the technical timeout to put Team USA ahead 17-14. China tied the match at 19-19 before Team USA took six of the final seven rallies to close the match.
“We knew going into the match that China, even though they are missing some of their top players, has been playing some really inspired volleyball — and really good volleyball,” Team USA coach Karch Kiraly said. “They beat Italy (Friday) in four sets to move on to the semifinals. We knew we would have our hands full and they also had a very energetic and passionate crowd cheering them on.”
Ex-Huskers Jordan Larson and Mikaela Foecke, who had a hand in the team's win against Brazil on Friday, did not play against China.
Brazil advanced to Saturday's final with a 25-23, 25-15, 25-10 win against Turkey.
Pavan wins gold in beach volleyball: Sarah Pavan was a national champion at Nebraska. Now she's a world champion.
Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, playing for Team Canada, earned a 23-21, 23-21 win against Team USA (April Ross and Alexandra Klineman) to take gold at the world beach volleyball championships in Hamburg, Germany.
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) July 6, 2019
It's Canada's first gold medal in beach volleyball, and it clinches for the duo a spot in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Pavan and Humana-Paredes recorded Canada's previous best finish at the world championships, finishing in fourth last year in Vienna.