China blows out Puerto Rico
China got the wake-up call it needed in the loss to the Netherlands on the opening day of play Saturday.
The No. 3-ranked squad in the world has now won six straight sets, feasting on the lesser competition of Pool B (Italy and Puerto Rico).
The three-set sweep of Puerto Rico Wednesday (25-20, 25-17, 25-18) assures China a spot in the quarterfinals with seven points in Pool B.
Zhu Ting led the way for the Chinese squad with 20 points on 16 spikes as the only player to net double digit points.
China earned 24 points on Puerto Rico errors and tallied 35 blocks in the three sets.
The Netherlands keeps cruising along
The Dutch women's volleyball team won't slow down.
One of the major unknowns of the tournament has suddenly turned into the biggest wild card, as the No. 11-ranked Netherlands squad has put the world on notice in its first Olympics in 20 years.
After upsetting China and taking the U.S. to the brink, the Netherlands stormed back with a sweep Wednesday morning, taking down Italy 25-21, 25-20 and 25-20.
Netherlands captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues injured her ankle against the U.S. Monday and missed the match against Italy, but her team had no issues handling an Italian squad that has now lost all nine sets it has played in Rio.
New acting captain Anne Buijs had a huge match for the Netherlands with 19 points on 18 spikes as her team converted on 49 of 95 spikes, including 16 of 30 spikes in the deciding third set.
With the three-set sweep, the Netherlands all but clinched a trip to the quarterfinals, earning six points in three matches.
The top four teams from each pool advance to the quarterfinals round and Italy and Puerto Rico currently sit at zero points through three matches.
USA stays undefeated
In one of the most intriguing matchups of the day, Team USA prevailed, continuing their hot start to the Rio Olympics by taking down previously-undefeated Serbia in four sets (25-17, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19).
The victory puts the United States first in Pool B with eight points and knocks Serbia down to third (tied with the Netherlands).
The U.S. is now 9-3 total in 12 sets across three matches while Serbia is 7-3.
Russia squeaks by Cameroon
The second afternoon game Wednesday featured one of the top seeds from Pool A (Russia) against the lowest seed (Cameroon) and while the favorite wound up with a sweep on their hands, it was not easy.
Cameroon has lost all nine sets it has played in Rio, but battled Russia to every last point in the third preliminary matchup for both teams Wednesday.
After a 25-19 Russia victory in the first set, Cameroon put together late rallies in the next two sets to challenge the No. 4 team in the world before ultimately losing 22-25 and 23-25.
In the deciding third set, Russia allowed Cameroon to hang around with five service faults. Cameroon also played some solid defense with 12 digs in the set and converted on 14 of its 33 spikes.
Tatiana Kosheleva (19 points on 17 spikes) and Nataliya Goncharova (19 points, three blocks) filled up the stat sheet for Russia, which will end play on Day 3 of the prelims tied for first place (nine points) with Brazil at the very least.
South Korea puts away Argentina
South Korea's sweep Wednesday evening essentially put the dagger in Argentina's hopes.
Entering play on the third day of women's volleyball prelims, Argentina had very little hope, but now sit in dead last in Pool A with losses in all nine sets in Rio.
With only two matches left to play, Argentina needs some serious good fortune to overtake Japan (currently in the final advancement spot with three points).
South Korea, meanwhile, sits at third place in Pool B with six points after winning two of its three matches and seven of 11 sets.
Polished Brazilian squad continues to dominate
The host Brazilians look almost impossible to beat.
Despite a late rally from Japan in the third set, Brazil still went on to sweep Wednesday night (25-18, 25-18, 25-22).
The Brazilians have now won all nine sets they've played in front of their home crowd.
Japan hung tough with Brazil all match and mounted a late rally to tie the third set at 19-all and then trailed just 21-20 before Brazil went on a run to put the match away.
The fourth day of women's preliminary action tips off again Friday morning beginning at 8:30 a.m.