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Tandara the star as Brazil breeze past China and into VNL semifinals

 

Nanjing, China, June 29, 2018 - Brazil left their opponents China - as well as a packed stadium - gasping for air after a 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-22) victory in their FIVB Volleyball Nations League finals clash that was powered by Tandara Caixeta's 19 points.

An 8.30pm start for the last of the VNL finals pool matches meant there was plenty of time for local fans to come in to support their heroes and by the time the first whistle blew the Olympic Sports Centre was pumping with expectation of a China win. Brazil - and Tandara in particular - had other plans, though, and the veteran wing spiker's collection of points came from kills (16), stuffs (one) and two aces.

Pacing the Brazilian standout all night was her teammate and wing spiker Gabriela Guimaraes, who finished the match with 14 points - all kills - while also effective in helping overpower the Chinese was middle blocker Adenizia Da Silva (10 points).

China were never really able to put their opponents under sustained pressure, despite another stellar performance from captain Zhu Ting, who contributed 13 points, a tally that included 12 spikes and one block. Middle blocker Yuan Xinyue was also strong with eight points.

In an effort to ignite her players, Chinese coach Lang Ping rang in the substitutions from the first set, and both Zeng Chunlei and 18-year-old phenom Li Yingying were effective in their cameos - with six and five points respectively - but Brazil were quite simply too good on the night.

Tandara has been in sensational form during this finals series, and Friday night's efforts followed a 17-point match in Brazil's win over the Netherlands the night before. For their efforts the Brazilians have been matched with surprise packets Turkey come Saturday's semifinals. But the Turks showed in their gutsy 3-2 win over Serbia on Thursday that they can match it with the very best.

The South Americans had come into the VNL finals as the equal second-best performed nation after the preliminary rounds, with a record of 12-3. And they have swept all before them since landing in Nanjing, Friday night's efforts coming after Brazil had brushed aside the Dutch 3-0 the night before.

China's up-and-down form has been well-noted across the inaugural VNL but they knew coming in to Friday night's clash that they'd made the semis regardless of the result - with Pool A rivals the Netherlands having lost both their matches already. But the fact that they now face reigning world champions the USA in their semifinal might temper any over-excitement.

So after Friday night's final pool matches, the semifinal line-ups on Saturday see the Brazil-Turkey clash at 3pm local time, followed by USA-China at 7.45pm local time.

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