Olympics: China beat Serbia to win third women's volleyball gold, US overcome Dutch for bronze

The Chinese team celebrates winning the women's Volleyball Gold Medal match against Serbia on Aug 20, 2016.
The Chinese team celebrates winning the women's Volleyball Gold Medal match against Serbia on Aug 20, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP, REUTERS) - China won their third Olympic Games women's volleyball gold on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Serbia in the final.

The Asian giants also won gold in 1984 and 2004, while they were runners-up to Cuba in 1996.

Serbia were playing in the Olympic final for the first time, having previously never progressed beyond the quarter-finals.

Only the Soviet Union - with four golds - has been more successful in Olympic women's volleyball than China.

The come-from-behind 19-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-23 victory also allowed the Chinese to equal Japan and the Soviets on six medals overall in the discipline.

The United States won bronze earlier on Saturday after beating the Netherlands, a consolation for the world's top-ranked team in their pursuit of an elusive gold.

China are coached by former top player Lang Ping, the captain of their first winning team in Los Angeles.

Serbia won the opening set with powerful serves and spikes by top scorer Brankica Mihajlovic, but China took control of the match in the key third set.

Serbia eliminated the favourites in their semi-final on Thursday in a five-set upset when the US team lost their top scorer Foluke Akinradewo to a leg injury.

With their star middle blocker back on the court on Saturday, the Americans beat the Dutch women 25-23, 25-27, 25-22, 25-19.

Akinradewo said some therapy on her left leg put her back in competition for the bronze-medal game, as she shed a tear over missing another opportunity to capture the gold.

"That's what we want, of course. No team comes here not wanting to win the gold," she told Reuters. "But this bronze is just as special for me because we were able to fight back from a disappointing loss. We were so close," she said.

The US reached the finals in the two previous Olympics in London and Beijing, but were defeated by Brazil both times.

This time, the Games hosts lost to China in the quarter-finals.