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US women beat Cuba, will play for volleyball gold

The U.S. women's volleyball team advanced to the gold medal game, defeating Cuba in three sets on Thursday to guarantee the Americans their best Olympic finish since 1984.
The United States will play the winner of the Brazil-China semifinal for the Olympic title on Saturday.
Cuba, three-time Olympic gold medal winners, will play the loser of that semifinal for the bronze.
The U.S. improved to 6-1 in Beijing with the 25-20, 25-16, 25-17 victory. The team's best finish in the Olympics until now was a silver medal at the 1948 Los Angeles Games.
The United States, which lost to Cuba in three sets in the preliminary round, jumped ahead 9-6 in the first set after Rosir Calderon's missed spike. The team held on to the lead the rest of the way, winning the set on Kim Willoughby's spike.
They kept up the pressure in the second, going up 8-4 on Danielle Scott-Arruda's ace. Tayyiba Haneef-Park and Heather Bown were effective in stopping Cuba's high-jumping spikers.
Errors cost Cuba as the United States extended the lead to 15-8. Willoughby again scored set point with a spike.
The United States continued to roll through the third, going up 16-12 on Yanelis Santos' serve into the net. Then it was Willoughby again for match point, with a spike that Yumilka Ruiz couldn't stop.
U.S. coach Jenny Lang Ping jumped from her chair with her arms raised. Her team gathered in a huddle at midcourt, raising their grasped hands into the air. Willoughby cried.
The American team has played through sadness in Beijing, after the parents of former Olympian Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman McCutcheon were attacked at a popular Beijing tourist site just after opening ceremonies.
Todd Bachman was fatally stabbed and his wife was badly wounded at the 13th century Drum Tower. The assailant, despondent over a family situation, jumped to his death from the tower.
Bachman McCutcheon is the wife of U.S. men's coach Hugh McCutcheon. Her parents were avid supporters of the U.S. team, and often traveled to tournaments.
The women's team wrote "Wiz" on their arms and shoulders during their games in Beijing to keep their former teammate and the tragedy in mind.
They have had considerable support from the Chinese because of Lang, a sports icon in China who is known as the "Iron Hammer" for her powerful spikes when she played for the Chinese national team. She led the team to the gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Before Thursday's match, Lang was met with hearty applause from the crowd at Capital Indoor Stadium. Chinese fans loudly cheered for the United States against Cuba.
The U.S. team earned its place in the semifinals with key victories over China in preliminary pool play and over Italy in five sets in the quarterfinals.
Cuba went undefeated in pool play, then defeated Serbia in three sets in the quarterfinals.
The Cubans won gold medals in 1992, 1996 and 2000. The team won the bronze in the 2004 Athens Games.