Desperate for a victory and in danger of an embarrassing elimination from the tournament, the United States finally played like a gold medal contender.
Logan Tom scored 19 points to lead the Americans to a 25-22, 25-12, 25-19 win over Cuba and a spot in the quarterfinals.
After Keba Phipps slammed the match-winning kill, the U.S. team -- with libero Stacy Sykora in the middle of it -- excitedly gathered in a group hug.
There's a price for finishing 2-3 in pool play, though.
On Tuesday, the U.S. team must face unbeaten Brazil in the quarterfinals. But the Brazilians can't be happy about a matchup against the team that began the Olympics with the international federation's top ranking.
Zoila Barros Fernandez had a team-high nine points for three-time defending gold medalist Cuba, which fell to third place in the group and will play Italy in the next round.
China takes on Japan, and Russia plays South Korea in the other quarterfinals.
The U.S. team took an 8-1 lead in the second set and sailed from there -- quieting a loud, pro-Cuba crowd that adorned a large section of the upper bowl with Cuban flags.
-- From News Services