Brazil’s back in fiery form


BRAZIL vented its ire on the Netherlands with an easy 25-21, 25-15, 25-20 win to climb the team standings in Volleyball Nations League (VNL) men’s tournament Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Nursing the wounds of their tough defeat in the crucial Week 3 opener on Tuesday to Italy, the Brazilians bounced back in style by dispatching their foes in only 72 minutes to hike their won-lost record to 7-3, good for third place behind unbeaten Japan (9-0) and the United States (8-1).

Later on Thursday, Italy fended off a gritty challenge from Canada, 25-14, 23-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-9, to stay within striking distance of the pace-setters—including Brazil.

The world No. 4 Italians recovered from a collapse in the fourth set to scrape past the hard-fighting Canadians and stand side-by-side with rival Brazil in the critical final leg of the 16-team VNL gearing up for the 8-team finals in Poland from July 19 to 24.

Long-time Olympic foes Italy and Brazil, which swept the Netherlands earlier with a 25-21, 25-15, 25-20 win, are now tied at 7-3 won-lost record but the latter holds a slight set points advantage at 22-20.

Brazil, the world No. 3 and the 2021 VNL champion, silenced Dutch ace Nimir Abdel-Aziz, the world’s top-ranked spiker, while launching attacks from all fronts to avenge its 23-25, 20-25, 25-15, 21-25 loss to Italy two days ago.

Henrique Honorato and Lucas Saatkamp had 10 points each while Ricardo Lucarelli Souza and Alan Souza had nine each in a lethal Brazilian quartet combo with the world’s best setter in Bruno Mossa Rezende preparing the table with 10 sets and a point.

“We tried to limit their strong attackers. They have the best [opposite] spiker in the world in Nimir and we made a great job blocking him. That was the main thing in this win,” said Rezende, Brazil’s team captain.

And the Brazilians did, bagging their first win with a bang in the Philippine leg of the VNL organized by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the Volleyball World with Ganten, Gerflor, Mikasa, Mizuno, Senoh and as global sponsors.

Abdel-Aziz, after a 24-point eruption in a 25-22, 25-22, 17-25, 25-18 win over Canada on Wednesday, bled eight points as the Netherlands played catch-up to the in-form Brazil all match long.

Brazil trailed early in the first set and was never threatened from there, leading by as many as 10 points in each of the last two frames.

The win also primed up Brazil, which will embark on a crucial outing today against world No. 1 Poland lurking at No. 4 spot in the final preliminary leg of the VNL that also has PLDT, Rebisco, Akari and the PSC as major sponsors.

Wouter Ter Maat, with 10 points, was the only bright spot for the world No. 10 Netherlands, which stayed at No. 8 with a 5-5 card but should be wary of the ninth-running and reigning champion France (4-5).

Only the Top 8 teams will qualify in the final round from July 19 to 24 in Poland from the 16-team VNL.

Italy actually scored a 23-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-21 stunner on Brazil in the opener of the Philippine leg on Tuesday but found itself on the edge of the cliff against Canada this time around.

Alessandro Michieletto showed the way with 18 points on 14 hits, three blocks and ace while Gianluca Galassi and Yuri Romano carded 17 points apiece to rescue the Italians from a near upset.

Roberto Russo and Daniele Lavia added 15 and 10 points, respectively, for Italy, which raced to a 2-1 lead sparked by an easy 25-14 win in the opening set.

On the verge of a four-set triumph, Italy took a 23-21 cushion on a Galassi kill before being blanked the rest of the way to allow a deciding fifth set.

Michieletto then took over from then, anchoring Italy’s 4-0 start in the rubber en route to the pesky win.

Italy has Slovenia next today as world No. 16 Canada, led by Ryan Joseph Sclater’s 22 points, slid to 2-8 at the 13th spot. Canada will face world No.1 Poland on Saturday.

Read full article on BusinessMirror