Serbia beat the US 20-25, 25-17, 25-21, 16-25, 15-13 in the semifinals Thursday afternoon at the Maracanazinho Stadium. Serbia, the runner ups in the 2015 World Cup to China, ousted the Russians 3-0 before winning an exciting five-set semi-final over Americans.
"Serbia was doing a nice job with creating problems for us", Kiraly said.
Waiting at the net to shake hands, the American players wept.
Serbia held off a furious rally by the United States to win 3-2, knocking off the favorites and advancing to face the Netherlands/China victor in the gold matchup Saturday.
The United States had won silver in women's volleyball in each of the last two Olympics.
But now the hunt - and the wait - must continue.
"We put ourselves in a position where we could make that win possible", Kiraly said. "I don't know if it will happen four years from now or 52 years from now".
United States' Foluke Akinradewo, top, spikes the ball as Brankica Mihajlovic blocks during a women's semifinal volleyball match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016.
Also: the gold medal match in women's water polo features the United States women, who have only trailed 44 seconds the entire tournament, against Italy as Team USA looks to become the first women's water polo team to win back-to-back golds.
The two teams traded service faults before a Serbian spike bounced far off Kristy Robinson's hands and the US women were left with nothing to do but watch helplessly as the ball sailed out of play to end the match. "I think we were a little distracted there for a second because we care so much for her", captain Christa Dietzen said, briefly becoming emotional. "It cuts deep. It's very painful, and that's OK", U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. "And now we have the next 48 hours to do so".
Medals are still in play for both Americans wrestling in Rio on Saturday, though J'den Cox and Tervel Dlagnev will need to hope for bronze at best.
"'We get some time to grieve", Kiraly said. "We are going to come back harder to fight for a bronze medal".