China beat the USA in the final to win gold at Beijing 2008 and then repeated the feat two years later to win the world title, but they did not have things all their own way in an epic five-set clash with the Netherlands in the last four.
With Marieke de Ruijter dominating at the net, the Dutch shocked the Chinese to win the first set 25-17, but Sheng Yu Hong and Zhang Lijun had too much power for the Netherlands as China came back to win the second set 25-14.
However, the world number four side kept on battling and moved 2-1 ahead after winning the third set 25-13, only for China to level once again (25-16) and the experience of the two-time Paralympic Games champions then told as they won the deciding set 15-11.
The Dutch now battle for bronze against Ukraine, who lost in straight sets to the USA (25-14, 25-13, 25-19) in their semi-final, with Heather Erickson top scoring with 15 points and Kathryn Holloway and Nichole Millage both making big impacts for the world number-two ranked team.
Looking ahead to the showdown for gold with China, USA player Kendra Lancaster said: ‘In the final, we will look to minimise our errors, especially in service as that let us down the last time we played against China. If we minimise our errors and play like we know we can then we can hopefully win.
‘We are looking to get gold and only gold. Before we came here, the only thing we want is gold and nothing else.’
The men’s Sitting Volleyball competition saw the quarter-finals take place on Day 7 and Pool A winners Germany came through a dramatic tie against China to book their place in the last four.
Having won all four of their group games, the Germans found themselves 2-0 down to the Chinese after losing the first two sets 19-25, 21-25 as Gao Hui impressed for the side that had only claimed one victory in qualifying for the knockout stages.
The next set sparked a magnificent comeback by the European team, who went on to win three on the bounce 25-21, 25-19, 15-10 to set up a semi-final against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Germany’s Thomas Renger said: ‘It was exhausting. We are not used to their style of play and it was very difficult to win. But eventually we got into our style and got ourselves playing well. When we play Bosnia, we normally lose. We have not beaten them since 1998. We will have to be very strong.’
World number two side Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Egypt in straight sets (25-17, 25-16, 25-22) to progress as Mirzet Duran and Safet Alibasic continued their excellent scoring form during the Games.
Iran maintained their unbeaten run at London 2012 to book their place in the next round with a comfortable 3-0 win over Great Britain’s men, while a close match between Russia and Brazil saw the European side edge a five-set thriller (18-25,25-15, 25-15, 19-25, 15-8).