Brazil qualified Tuesday for the semifinals of the women's volleyball tourney at the Olympic Games by beating Russia 3-2 in a hard-fought, heart-stopping match.

Brazil, which won the gold four years ago in Beijing, had its ups and downs, recovered its style and played at the highest level seen at the 2012 London Games.

After flirting with elimination in the first round of the tournament due to inconsistency, Brazil on Tuesday was back to being an on-again, off-again squad.

When it played well it overpowered Russia, but when the team slacked off it couldn't stand up to the physical power and blocking height of the Europeans.

Despite playing well at the outset, the Brazilians made errors at critical moments and Russia made them pay for it, winning the first set.

Brazil bounced back, but after taking the second set, the Olympic champ was again the victim of its own inconsistency, allowing the Russians to prevail in the third.

Russia roared ahead in the fourth set, but a seething Brazil managed to tie it at eight points and went in front with a block followed by an unstoppable serve by Sheilla.

With the match knotted at two sets apiece, Russia brought Brazil to its knees in the fifth with Goncharova's devastating spikes, but the Olympic champions survived six set points and won the victory with the deciding spike by Fabiana. EFE