Natália Zilio, arguably Brazil’s best volleyball player in activity, had a 2018 WCH to forget. Fighting against injury, she made the team only at the tournament’s eve, and since her recovery was not certain, Brazil’s coach José Roberto Guimarães even had her roster back-up, Amanda Francisco, travel to Japan as well just in case.
Natália missed the team’s first 3 games in the competition, but suited up for its last 2 Round 1 games, saying she was ready to play. Her on court performance showed otherwise though, as she barely got any court time in the team’s Round 2 games, and Brazil was eliminated from the competition without making it to the tournament’s Final 6. Being relegated to a supporting role due to injury must have hurt for a player of Natalia’s caliber, a 2x time Grand Prix MVP. She spoke to Globo.com about the experience:
“I think it was a difficult year. We had a lot of injuries during the competitions. There were days in training that we only had 4 players fully healthy. There were just to many injuries to deal with. But we have to take this as lesson for the future, to come back stronger and stronger. We know that the parameter we have out here is this: Serbia flying, the Dutch is very well, and Italy has grown a lot. So we have to learn from this and come back stronger next year because we have the Olympics in 2020.
We’ve always said that in the other years we’ve always had a strong cast. Players would leave the game, the bench would take over, and the team’s level would not drop. This year, though, was different, as the injuries just kept piling up and up. So, when some starters went down, we failed to replace them, myself included. I’m not at my best physically, I did not keep up. I did not play for seven months, I tried to do my best, but if I was well I could have helped more. Now, we need to be calm-headed to decided where we can improve in the next years.
I want to come back strong. I still have the season with Minas, and I want to have a nice Superliga season, recovery to the best of my ability. I need to play. Next year, we have the World Cup, qualifying for the Olympics. It’s good for the team to grow, for the younger girls to see how it all works. World and Olympics are different championships. But that is the kind of thing you only see when you play it. We will get stronger, sure.”
Natalia is still only 29 years old and has come back from serious injuries, such as a tumor in her tibia, to top form before. If there is anyone capable of doing it, she is, and we should expect to see her full throttle in Tokyo.
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As derrotas fazem parte da nossa caminhada. E são nesses momentos, que temos grandes aprendizados! Que possamos nos fortalecer e crescer juntos depois de tudo o que passamos. Não tenho dúvidas que voltaremos mais fortes. Continuaremos trabalhando e lutando, para tentar levar nosso país ao lugar mais alto!!! E obrigada a todos pela torcida e pela força.. vocês são demais! 🇧🇷💚💛#Filhoteunãofogeàluta #keepfighting