Brazil Beats Team USA in a Thriller to Close off the USAV Cup

  0 Liam Smith | August 19th, 2017 | Brazilian Volleyball, International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball, South American Volleyball, U.S. Men's National Team


Tonight, Team USA gifted the Chicago crowd with a much better volleyball display than yesterday. As if previously scripted, both USAV Cup games played out just like the two friendlies in Brazil: an easy 3-0 Brazil victory in the first game, followed by a 3-2 war won by Brazil on details.

Brazil came into the game with a four match winning streak against the USA. Yesterday’s victory came in three relatively tight sets (25-21, 25-23, 29-27) and took huge 16-point and 15-point nights from Mauricio Borges and Renan Buiatti, respectively.

Today, John Speraw started the contest with significant line up changes, bringing Ben Patch into the opposite spot instead of Aaron Russel, and moving Matt Anderson outside. David Smith, Micah Christenson, Jeff Jendryk, Thomas Jaeschke, and Erik Shoji rounded out the American starters. For Brazil, Rafael Araújo, Maurício Souza, Ricardo Lucarelli, Maurício Borges, Bruno Rezende, Isac Santos, and Thales Hoss started the game. Friendly or not, tempers were quick to rise in the match, with teams questioning the work done by referees and having stare down contests at the net. Chicago also sported a huge Brazilian crowd in the Sears Center’s stands.

The game started as an almost comical reminder of Team USA’s biggest struggle so far this year: servicing. Both teams quickly came to a 8-7 score favoring Brazil, despite USA’s three early missed services. They played neck to neck until a 16-15 score favoring the USA, both setters playing the finest of their skills, showing why they are head and shoulders above the rest of the world.

Despite’s Maurício Borge’s superb play, Team USA closed the set 25-23, mostly due to its efficiency on second chance points. Matt Anderson had five kills in the first set alone. While Team USA’s eight service errors in the first set was down from yesterday’s 11, it is still a preoccupying trend in Speraw’s squad.

The second set started pretty evenly, both teams going head to head at 6-6, 12-12, and 18-18. Brazil was able to pull ahead at the end of the set thanks to three consecutive American service errors. Similar to last night, Team USA was erring at the set’s most crucial times.

The third set started sloppyly for both sides, as they went up 3-3, 7-7, and 10-10 with lots of mistakes from both teams. Brazil was able to go on a small run to grab a 15-11 lead, as Team USA just couldn’t find the court in their service. Brazil then extended its lead to 19-16 as the American players started to often question the head ref’s decision making. Late in the set, Team USA was able to fight back from a 20-16 deficit to tie the game at 23-23. But, Brazil was able to close the set at 25-23 in a call that really angered the American players.

The fourth set saw an inspired Matt Anderson take over the contest. The American outside hitter dominated the frame, allowing USA to start with an 18-11 run. Brazil had no answer for him, and he closed the set 25-22 on a beautiful attack.

Team USA started the tie-break 4-2, with an ace by Ben Patch and effective blocking. Brazil was quick to resist and sought off a 4-4 tie, which later turned into 8-6 lead at the set’s midpoint. The Americans were then able to tie the game at 11, and after some mistakes from Brazil, achieved a huge 13-11 lead. What happened next, justifies a play by play:

  • With the game tied at 13, Renan, 7’2″ outside hitter, subbed in for setter Bruno in order to attempt a block. It only partially worked, as he deflected an American attack, which left Brazil with an attempt at a second chance point, but with no setter in court. Mauricio Borges an opposite hitter, took command and was able to deliver a beautiful quick tempo middle set to Isac, which he attacked out of bonds.
  • Team USA gained its first match point. Ben patch served the ball at the net’s upper strip, which caused it to capriciously fall over just as Bruno narrowly saved it and Lucarreli was set up for the kill.
  • With the game once again tied, Team USA gained another match point in a Jaeschke kill, which was once again saved by Brazil in a Mauricio Borges attack, that was questioned by lots of American players.
  • Brazil then shifted the balance of power in the tie break after a block, gaining its first match point, which was saved by a gutsy kill from Ben Patch. Brazil then gained another set point from an Otavio attack, and was able to finish the game 18-16 in a Mauricio Borges kill from an American reception mistake.

The thrilling ending marked Brazil’s fourth win against team USA in only two weeks. While Brazilian players and coaching staff get to go back home happily, Speraw and his squad will have to take the time to think things over for the 2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup. Even though they showed a lot of hard in tonight’s game, and Anderson came up big with a 31 point effort, four straight losses to Brazil is not a good result. For starters, the American coach will have to address its team’s very serious servicing problem. Tonight, American players led the way with THIRTY service errors, which is just absurd at this level of competition.

The teams will meet again in September in Japan.

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