A clinical performance by China silenced the home crowd here this evening as they beat the host nation 3-1 to set up an International Volleyball Federation Women's World Championship final against United States, who were equally impressive in beating Brazil 3-0.
After two-time defending champions Russia failed to reach the semi-finals yesterday, it was left to two other global superpowers to deliver as both the Chinese and the US proved more resilient in defence and more poignant in attack than their respective rivals.
In the opening match, Brazil, the double reigning Olympic champions who had won all 11 matches in the preliminary stage, were heavily favoured against the team they had beaten in the last two Olympic finals, but the US got on top early in the first set and never looked back.
With superior serving and attacking supplemented by a far lower unforced error count, they eventually ran out winners, 25-18, 29-27, 25-20, as Brazil struggled to maintain their composure after several close decisions by the officials went against them.
The US are now within one victory of a maiden World Championship title, following silver medals in 1967 and 2002.
While the atmosphere had been loud, vocal and passionate from the outset, it ramped up several notches as Italy took to the court - trying to win their first world title since 2002, when they beat the United States in the final.
But, while the Italians, who had their every shot roared on by the 12,600 full-to-capacity crowd, showed glimpses of brilliance, the Chinese were more consistent and always capable of raising their game when it mattered.
In this vein, they always kept their opponents at arms-length, as they moved 2-0 ahead before the host nation fought back to take the third set.
With an impressive show of determination, the Italians refused to lie down in the fourth, and despite there always being a feeling that it was only a matter of time before their defeat was confirmed, they kept fighting to the last.
But, after saving a succession of match points and even creating one set point of their own, they eventually lost out in a pulsating set as China emerged triumphant 25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 30-28.
China are now chasing a third World Championship title, and a first in almost three decades following victories in 1982 and 1986, while the Italians face the consolation of a bronze medal playoff against Brazil.
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