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Tandara sounds out a VNL finals warning in Brazil's impressive opening act

 
Nanjing, China, June 28, 2018 - Brazil served notice to its FIVB Volleyball Nations League finals rivals with a commanding 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-23) win over the Netherlands on Thursday night that saw their star Tandara Caixeta in imposing form with 17 points.

This was a match-up that was all about attack and that's just the way Brazil - and Tandara in particular - like to play the game. The wing spiker got better the longer the match went on and her tally boasted 16 kills.

Backing Tandara up were Brazil's imposing pair of rising 24-year-old wing spiker Gabriela "Gabi" Braga Guimaraes and middle blocker Ana Beatriz Correa - with 14 and 10 points respectively.

That veteran middle blocker Adenizia Da Silva (nine points) was there hugging the net for six blocks - out of her team's final count of 10 to their opponents' two - shows just how impressive this Brazilian effort was, and how complete. 
The Dutch were led - as they had so often been throughout this tournament - by opposite Lonneke Slöetjes, with 15 points, which all came from kills. Middle blocker Yvon Belien also put in a valuable shift with eight points. But overall they struggled to keep pace with the Brazilians.

The result was certainly a reflection of the South Americans' form coming in to the finals, as they'd finished the VNL preliminary rounds at 12-3 - second, with the Netherlands, only to the USA - but more tellingly they'd defeated both their Pool A rivals China (3-2 on June 5) and the Dutch (3-1 on May 31).

For their part, the Netherlands still looked a little shell-shocked after Chinese star Zhu Ting dismantled their defence the night before to the tune of 35 points as the home nation won 3-1. They were no match for the imposing presence of Tandara and Brazil, either, but can reflect on a promising first VNL campaign that saw them finish with an overall record of 12-5.

For Brazil, Friday brings a blockbuster night match against China, with both nations at 1-0 - and with their stars shining - as they shoot for top seeding from Pool A going in to Saturday's VNL semifinals.

There's little doubt China have an added incentive, given that preliminary round loss and the fact that they will have their legions of fans on their side. But - as Brazil showed again on Thursday - in this kind of form, they are a match for anyone.

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