Ufa, Rssia, June 9, 2018 - This may have been a match of five sets, but in the end of all came down to the final few points of the decider. When it mattered, Brazil rallied and found some golden moments to take it 3-2 (25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 21-25, 15-13). The turning point was most probably at 10-8 in the fifth when a pancake save led to a dig set from Bruno to Lucas on a C quick to hit a winner. From here their experience told and with a bit of luck they got to the magic 15 points first.
Brazil made two changes from yesterday’s winning line-up against hosts Russia, with William Arjona and Maurício Souza coming in to start, however they were forced to return to their more regular starting line up to get them over the line. Douglas Souza top scored with 22 points (18 attacks and 4 blocks) and by far out performed Mauricio this time around. After the match he spoke about how it was harder for Brazil today with Iran providing a big blocking threat – demonstrated by them leading the way in blocks 13-6.
Wallace De Souza has been Brazils star player for many years now, but today was not one of his better days. That being said he still was the only other person to reach double figures for his team, taking 18 points across the five sets.
Amir Ghafour has scored 113 points for Iran in the VNL so far but he had to settle for a place on the bench. Saber Kazemi was starting opposite in his place and put in a top scoring performance showing experience beyond his years. Just behind for Iran were Farhad Ghaemi (14 points) and Masoud Gholami (12 points).
Brazil were rightly confident at the start having won 10 of their 13 previous matches against Iran at world level major tournaments, including all of the last four. Whilst Iran dominated the early part of the second, there was an air of inevitability for the majority of the match as the reigning Olympic champions took their 6th successive victory. Tomorrow Brazil will take on China, with the weekend ending with Russia facing Iran.
Power and precision were the themes of the first set, with Brazil seeming to be able to up their game whenever required. In truth they controlled the opening exchanges, with their key men all taking points early on. Top scorer for them so far in the Volleyball Nations League is Wallace De Souza (102 before the match) and he took another 5 in the opening set as Brazil came through to win to 17 points.
The fists were pumping for Iran in the first part of the second, clearly playing with more intent after some encouraging words by their coach Igor Kolakovic. Plus when you have Mir Saeid Marouflakrani, more commonly known as Marouf, in your team you always have a chance. His ability to find hitting channels for his team kept Iran in it. The pick of them was when he faked to spike and set a reverse ball to the pipe position – bringing applause from all in the hall, even Brazil It was fitting that he was on the service line for Iran’s first set point to deliver an ace and level the match.
Mauricio was put down twice in the first couple of points in the third set and was hauled off to be replaced by Leonardo Ferreira Do Nascimento. It made little difference, as at the first technical it was the team from Asia who led by two points. One theme that is coming through with Brazil’s new style is attacking back in two touches when being given a free ball - with the receiver setting it straight up to an attacker - and it was one of these that swung the set in their direction here as they reached double figures. Brazil running away with it 25-19.
It was advantage Iran in the fourth set, pushed on by Farhad Ghaemi they built a huge lead (16-8) and it was only a question of whether their side out game could hold out. Brazil seemed to find the spark winning a 34 second mega rally at 17-11 but it was not to be as Iran continued to be more successful in attack.
Clever game management from Brazil’s coach Renan Dal Zotto meant he could start the fifth set with his strongest six with setter Bruno Mossa Rezende up to game speed and some of his bigger hitters rested and ready. It paid off as his key men stepped up and saw them across the line, just.