Pliskova fought off three break points to once again send the set into a tiebreak, where Kuznetsova's rock-solid defense shut her down, allowing the Czech just two points as Kuznetsova closed out the match and a spot into the final.
Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Vesnina set up an all-Russian BNP Paribas Open final with straight-sets wins on Friday.
Vesnina will Kristina Mladenovic for a place in the Indian Wells final after the French player's 3-6 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory over former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.
Kuznetsova served one of her nine aces to lead 4-1 in the second, prompting Vesnina to bring out her coach-father Sergey Vesnin for a chat. Williams overcame three match points on her serve on three straight errors by Vesnina in the eighth game that featured six deuces and lasted for 9½ minutes.
"When I was up 3-0 in the first set, she was missing some easy shots".
For Vesnina, the decider will be her 10th WTA final as she looks to improve on a 2-7 win-loss record.
Elena defeated Venus 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in a last-eight contest that lasted for more than two hours. Kuznetsova has the better athleticism out of the two players and has more firepower in her shots. "It was first time I saw it, I was, like, 'Whoa, I really, really want to play this tournament.' I was dreaming just to get here".
"We've been team-mates since we were 12", said Kuznetsova about Vesnina.More news: Trump says he's '100 per cent' behind health bill
"So, it's going to be hard match, but on the other hand, it's very exciting to play the semi-final match here in Indian Wells", she added.
"I felt like I had to do kind of insane points to win", Mladenovic said. Mladenovic later began pushing Vesnina, saving one match point while serving down 5-2.
The physical and emotional strain of the draining first set took a toll on Vesnina in the second.
Mladenovic broke back in the seventh game, but it was too late to deny the set to Vesnina.
"Tonight I think she was not missing much from the baseline", Pliskova said.
Throughout the match, the three-time finalist answered adversity with proactive play. "In those moments, you need to trust your game, and that's what I did well".
Eighteen-time Grand Slam victor Federer advanced to the semi-finals without lifting a racket as suspected food poisoning forced Australian Nick Kyrgios to withdraw from their much anticipated quarter-final.