Brazilians volleyball fans love to wake up on the weekend to an early national team game. Today, they were spectators to a friendly match against what is considered one of Brazil’s biggest rivals: Team USA. This was the first in a series of matches that both teams will play as a preparation for FIVB’s Grand Champions Cup. Brazil coasted to an easy 3-0 win (25-21, 26-24, 25-21). The teams will play again Tuesday (08/15) in Manaus, Brazil, before going to the Illinois to play the USA Volleyball Cup on August 18 and 19.
The Brazilian game announcers were quick to remind the audience that friendly match status or not, no game against the USA is taken lightly by Brazilian fans. The motives for such antagonism? Brazil’s two Olympic final losses to Team USA in 1984 and 2008. Brazil’s coach Renan Del Zoto, a player in that 1984 loss, kept a very serious demeanor throughout the whole game.
The US fielded a team with lots of college players against the current Olympic champions. The US had only four players from the 2016 Olympic Games roster in uniform. Such discrepancy showed on the first set. Brazil got to a devastating 10-4 start, forcing John Speraw to call an early timeout. The American players looked lost on the court, unable to capitalize on Christenson’s solid play, and the score quickly ballooned up to 16-10. Due to ineffective servicing, unable to bother Brazil’s reception line, they became easy prey to Brazilian setter Bruninho’s quasi-artistic setting, who was quick to impose his fast tempo ball distribution into play. Brazil closed the set 25-21 in a set that had eight American service errors.
The start of the second set was much more balanced, with the American side more focused. Both teams played point to point up to a 11-11 score, the score being kept close throughout most the set. Later in the set, Team USA enjoyed a short 22-21 lead after a spectacular Garret Muagututia single man block on 7’2″ Renan Buiuti. However, a series of American errors allowed Brazil to tie the game at 24-24. A quick tempo attack by Mauricio and an attack error from Benjamim Patch allowed Brazil to close the set at 26-24.
The third set also showed more balanced play, quickly going up to a 10-10 score. However, the American service remained very ineffective, a problem they faced throughout the whole game. This made the game much easier for Brazil, allowing Bruninho to set the ball wherever he wanted to, making optimal use of his middle blockers. Brazil then coasted to another easy 25-21 win.
Brazilian middle blocker Lucão led all scorers with 15 points, five of them blocks. Benjamim Patch led all American scorers with 11 points.
Brazil started the game with Bruninho, Wallace, Lucarelli, Mauricio Borges, Lucão, Mauricio Souza and Tiago Brendle. Douglas, Renan, Rodriguinho and Rapha subbed in.
USA started the game with Patch, Christenson, Jaeschke, E. Shoji, Defalco, Russel, and David Smith. Jendryk and Muagututia subbed in.
Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola received a standing ovation between the second and third sets in a celebration for their 2017 Beach Volleyball World Championship win in Vienna. Remember their title here.