ATHENS, Greece -- The U.S. women's volleyball team began the Olympics with golden aspirations. Now it's just hoping to make the medal round.
Not even a surprise pep talk from the unbeatable U.S. softball team could end this puzzling slump.
Ekaterina Gamova had 28 points and the match-winning kill to lead powerful Russia to a five-set victory over the United States on Friday, 20-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-18, 15-11.
The Russians (3-1) clinched a spot in the quarterfinals and will finish pool play against China on Sunday.
The Americans (1-3), who carried the world's top ranking into this tournament, must beat three-time defending gold medalist Cuba to move on. If they lose, they're done.
The Cubans clinched a berth in the medal round with a three-set victory over the Dominican Republic, and China did the same by sweeping Germany.
"It's been an emotional rollercoaster," said Tayyiba Haneef, who had 25 points.
She was encouraged by a meeting with the U.S. softball team, which has yet to allow a run in seven Olympic victories a few miles up the coast.
Some of the softball players spotted middle blocker Danielle Scott walking around the athletes' village Thursday night and asked to speak to the volleyball team about overcoming unexpected failure.
At the 2000 Sydney Games, the seemingly invincible softball team lost three straight at one point and was on the verge of elimination before turning things around and winning a gold medal.
"They told us the tournament isn't over until it's over," Haneef said. "We still have one more match. If we give everything we can and go out and take that game, then anything can happen."
The United States softball team remained unbeaten for the Olympics -- and for one day, Japan was perfect, too.
The Americans beat Taiwan 3-0 on Friday for their seventh straight Olympic shutout and 77th win in a row.
Cat Osterman struck out 10 in six innings, and the United States completed a perfect run through the preliminary round, setting up a U.S.-Australia showdown in the semifinals.
Later, Yukiko Ueno did Osterman one better, pitching the first perfect game in Olympic history to lead Japan past China. Ueno struck out nine.
Tanya Harding replaced Brooke Wilkins to lead Australia over Greece, and Lauren Bay threw a two-hit shutout in Canada's win over Italy.
The Americans are dominating in a way never seen before. Through seven games, they've outscored the opposition 41-0, allowed just 11 hits and permitted three runners to reach third.
Abby Wambach finished a four-on-zero breakaway in the 59th minute, her 17th goal in her last 18 games, to give the U.S. women's soccer team a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Japan.
The Americans will play Germany in the semifinals Monday. The game is a rematch of last year's World Cup semifinal, won 3-0 by eventual champion Germany.
Kristine Lilly scored in the 43rd minute for the Americans. Emi Yamamoto scored for Japan in the 48th.
Germany came from behind to beat Nigeria on goals by Steffi Jones and Conny Pohlers.
Cristiane and Formiga had two goals each for Brazil, which advanced to play Sweden in the other semifinal.
Track and Field
Alan Webb was outmaneuvered and outrun in the first round of the 1,500 meters, a quick exit for the runner who was supposed to end America's streak of mediocrity in middle-distance races.
While the 21-year-old youngster faltered, the squad's most storied Olympian -- 37-year-old Gail Devers -- barely survived the second round in the women's 100. She captured the 16th and final spot in today's semifinals, avoiding elimination by .01 seconds.
Devers joined teammates Lauryn Williams and LaTasha Colander in the semis.
Webb was trying to end a 36-year U.S. drought in the Olympic 1,500. Twenty-four runners advanced, and Webb had the 25th-fastest time: 3 minutes, 41.25 seconds. He missed qualifying by .11 seconds.
In the 10,000 meters, Kenenisa Bekele ended the reign of fellow Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie with an Olympic record time of 27:05.10. Gebrselassie, 31 and suffering from an Achilles tendon injury, had won the last two Olympic 10,000 races. He finished fifth.
Unseeded American Mardy Fish beat No. 16 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the Olympic semifinals. Gonzalez had pulled off a third-round upset of Fish's teammate and friend, Andy Roddick, who was in the stands rooting.
In Sunday's final, Fish will play No. 10 Nicolas Massu, who defeated Taylor Dent 7-6 (5), 6-1 in another U.S.-Chile match.
In the women's semifinals, Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the third set to beat Russia's Anastasia Myskina 7-5, 5-7, 8-6. France's Amelie Mauresmo advanced by defeating unseeded Australian Alicia Molik 7-6 (8), 6-3.
Delivering their best performance of the tournament, Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger upset fourth-seeded Germans Jonas Reckermann and Markus Dieckmann 21-16, 19-21, 15-13 in their first match of the medal round.
The Americans next face Swiss pair Stefan Kobel and Patrick Heuscher, who ousted Joao Brehna and Luis Maia of Portugal 21-18, 21-19.
Vicente Escobedo became the fourth U.S. boxer eliminated from the Olympics. The lightweight lost to Rovshan Huseynov of Azerbaijan, 36-18.
Cuban fighters, meanwhile, continued to roll, winning three more fights to improve to 14-1. Seventeen-year-old British lightweight Amir Khan, the only member of his country's boxing team, was impressive for a second time in a 37-21 win over Dimitar Stilianov of Bulgaria.
Laura Wilkinson saved her best dive for last, and the defending Olympic gold medalist advanced past the preliminaries of 10-meter platform. The 26-year-old Texan came through on her final dive, a backward 2 1/2 somersault with 1 1/2 twists. Her spins were crisp and her entry smooth, resulting in scores of 7.5 and 8.0 across the board. That was enough to move the American up to 13th with 314.19 points.
American Matt Emmons won the gold medal in the 50-meter prone rifle competition with a score of 703.3. Christian Lusch of Germany won silver with 702.2, and Sergei Martynov of Belarus took bronze.
Emmons led all shooters after the qualifying round with a score of 599, meaning only one of his 60 shots failed to hit the bull's-eye that is 10.4 millimeters in diameter -- smaller than a dime.
Women's Water Polo
Australia and the United States, the gold and silver medalists at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, advanced to the women's water polo semifinals after finishing atop their brackets.
The world champion Americans, coming off an upset loss to Canada, defeated Russia 8-4. The Americans got two goals and two assists from Brenda Villa in a match that determined the No. 1 position in Group B.
Challenged for the first time in these Olympics, the U.S. women's basketball team fought through foul problems and long stretches of cold shooting to clinch first place in its preliminary group with a 71-58 victory over Spain.
The United States had won its first three games in Athens by an average of 31 points, but nothing came easily against Spain. Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson and Yolanda Griffith led a 10-2 fourth-quarter run that put the Americans firmly in control.
Leslie led the United States with 19 points and had 15 in the first half.