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Tandara stars again as Brazil cruise past the Poles

 

Apeldoorn, Netherlands, May 30, 2018 - Tandara Caixeta produced her second powerful display in as many days in Apeldoorn as Brazil earned their 7th straight FIVB women's Nations League victory after beating Poland in straight sets 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-23).  

Despite making changes for this Pool 9 encounter, Brazil went about their business in serene fashion against a Poland side that once again offered an attacking threat but couldn't back it up with defensive resilience. The South American champions weren't at their vintage best but took advantage of numerous Polish errors to keep up their relentless pursuit of Nations League leaders USA, who remain a point ahead at the summit. Poland, meanwhile, suffered a 4th successive defeat and are languishing in 14th place, with a place in the Final Round already looking well beyond them.  

Brazil, who now haven't lost to Poland for 48 years, are renowned for their all-court game with top-scorer Tandara again the main provider of points with 21, while libero Suelen Pinto and setter Roberta Silva continue to provide the solid foundations in an outstanding team that looks a surefire bet to qualify for the Final Round. Ana Carolina da Silva (14 points) also had a majestic game, while Amanda Francisco (11 points) was dangerous from spike range. 

Poland, who played well in patches against the Dutch on Tuesday, always provide plenty of threat from spike range due to their height, but too often they make errors at key times which illustrates why they've accrued just 2 wins from 8 matches. Marwina Smarzek was their top scorer again with 18 points, while Agnieszka Kakolewska (10 points) and Martyna Grajber (7 points) also provided plenty of quality as the Poles gave a good account of themselves, but they were ultimately outclassed.  

Brazil were a little sluggish in the opening set with Poland making a real nuisance of themselves. Gabriella Braga Guimaraes - in for the rested Adenizia da Silva - did her job as a blocker as she edged Brazil 7-6 in front, but the Poles had the lead at the first technical time out thanks a poor miss from the normally reliable Tandara. But Brazil began to exert control with Amanda, Tandara and Beatriz continuing to yield points, but a couple of timely Grajber points reminded the favourites of Poland's capabilities. Brazil though always had that extra craft and ingenuity with Tandara booming down some big spikes, but it was another Polish error that handed Brazil the set (25-20) with Smarzek's serve landing long. 

Poland - coached by Jacek Nawrocki - were far from overawed and started the second set well with skipper Agnieszka Kakolewska utilising her tremendous height with a pair of crisp spikes to put the Poles 3-2 in front. This set was a tight one with both sides going for attacking shots, but Kakolewska's prowess at the net kept Poland in front by a single point at 9-8. But a pair of powerful spikes from the outstanding Ana Carolina levelled the contest at 10-10, and from on Brazil began to edge clear. Two straight Tandara spikes gave Brazil a 4-point cushion at 21-17 and Brazil's top scorer crafted a wonderfully delicate winner to bring up set point. The 2017 World Grand Prix winners took the set 25-20 to move to the brink of yet another victory.  

The Brazilians hadn't started quickly in either of the opening 2 sets and the 3rd was no different with Smarzek and then Grajber scoring important points to edge Poland into a 5-4 lead, before Zuzanna Efimienko's spike made it 8-6 to the side ranked 22nd in the world at the first tehnical timeout. But Brazil, as they do so often when the pressure is on, responded magnificently with Ana Carolina notching her 10th point of the game to edge Jose Roberto Guimaraes' girls 11-10 in front before Tandara bridged the gap to 2 points at 16-14 by the 2nd stoppage. Marlena Plesnierowicz's poor missed serve with the gap only a single point ultimately proved costly, and another service error on match point gifted Brazil the set (25-23) as they got over the line without really hitting top gear. Ominous signs for the rest with the Brazilians now 7 from 8; Poland, on the other hand, are now surely out of contention for the Final Round.

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