China's woes continue
The No. 3 team in the world hasn't looked worthy of that ranking in Rio.
China lost for the second time in four matches Friday, getting swept out of the Maracanãzinho arena by Serbia (25-19, 25-19, 25-22).
The loss ensures China will finish Day 4 with only seven points - and likely fourth place - in Pool B.
China will still have a shot to medal, but it will need to right the ship before quarterfinals begin and now have to go through the top-ranked U.S. team on the final day of prelims Sunday.
Serbia, meanwhile, continues to impress as the No. 6-ranked team in the world.
The Serbian squad has collected nine points in four matches including three sweeps (over Italy, Puerto Rico and now China). They did, however, lose in four sets to America on Wednesday and sit in second place in Pool B.
Argentina, Cameroon finally earn points
Argentina and Cameroon entered play Friday with a combined 18 losses in 18 sets of play at the Rio Olympics.
Of course, both teams wound up in a closely-contested battle that went to five sets and took just shy of two hours.
Argentina took home two points, winning in the fifth set (19-25, 25-19, 26-28, 25-21, 15-13) and making history as the first victory for a country making its Olympic volleyball debut.
Since the match went to five sets, Cameroon earned a point, as well, but the hope for either team advancing to the quarterfinals is slim.
Italy challenges Team USA
The U.S. women's volleyball team had a tougher time than anticipated Friday, going up against an Italian squad that had lost all nine sets it had played in Rio on the first three days of competition.
Top-ranked Team USA won in four sets (25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20), but Italy took them to the brink, forcing a closely-contested battle with the No. 1 seed in Pool B.
Italy's effort still didn't earn them a point and they ended the fourth day of prelims with zero points and no hope of advancing to the quarterfinals.
The Dutch continue surprising run with another sweep
The Netherlands continues its surprising run in its first Olympic Games in 20 years.
The No. 11-ranked Dutch squad swept No. 17 Puerto Rico in three sets Friday (25-14, 25-22, 25-16).
That gives the Netherlands three victories in four matches, with the only loss coming against the U.S. in five sets.
It also gives the Netherlands a share of the No. 2 seed in Pool B with nine points after four days of prelims.
Puerto Rico, meanwhile, has still not won a set in four matches at Rio.
Russia dominates again
The Russian women's volleyball team has turned in one of the most dominant performances in Rio, winning 12 of its 13 sets spread across four matches.
The most recent sweep pinned Japan as the latest victims Friday evening as the No. 5 team in the world was no match for the fourth-ranked Russians, who took all three sets (25-14, 30-28, 25-18).
Japan started out just 9-of-52 on spikes and they were in complete control for most of the second set before they let Russia back in it.
Every time Japan challenged in a second set that took 33 minutes, Russia had a counter and finally prevailed with a wild 30-28 victory.
Russia will end the fourth day of preliminaries with a share of the top spot in Pool A and will take on Brazil next week to determine the one-seed in the quarterfinals bracket.
Japan, meanwhile, will need a win on the final day of preliminary play against Argentina to earn the final spot in the quarterfinals.
Brazil finally faces a challenge ... sort of
Brazil almost lost a set.
The hosts - and two-time defending gold medalists (2012 and 2008) - have played 12 sets in their first four preliminary matchups. In those 12 sets, they have 12 victories.
But South Korea came oh-so-close to changing that narrative.
The No. 9 team in the world took the No. 2 squad to the brink, coming back from down 17-13 in the final set Friday night before losing 27-25.
It is the most points a team has scored against Brazil during the Rio Olympics.
Brazil will now face Russia Sunday for the No. 1 seed in Pool A.
Korea plays Cameroon Sunday before moving on to the quarterfinals.