By Associated Press | Aug. 16, 2016, 3:26 p.m. (ET)
U.S. women's volleyball players celebrate defeating Japan during the women's quarterfinal match against Japan at the Rio 2106 Olympic Games at the Maracanazinho on Aug. 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.


RIO DE JANEIRO -- 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 familiar opponent Japan in straight sets Tuesday to reach the semifinals in Rio. 

The unbeaten U.S. won 25-16, 25-23, 25-22 and has dropped just five sets all tournament. It 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 after sweeping Japan in a match at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. 

The Americans will face Russia or Serbia in Thursday's semifinals. 

Two-time reigning Olympic champion and host Brazil will take on a young China team in Tuesday's late match for a date with the upstart Netherlands women, who beat South Korea in four sets. The Dutch are back in their first Olympics in 20 years and went 4-1 in group play behind the Americans.

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