Jiangmen, China, June 7, 2018 - Tandara Caixeta's 30 points - along with some stellar defence - made all the difference for Brazil as they saw off a spirited Russian challenge 3-2 (15-25, 25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 17-15) in their final fourth round clash at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
The wing spiker was s dominant force with 27 kills and two blocks - while also showing off her serving skills with an ace - as Brazil eventually brushed off a disappointing outing the night before against the United States, when they lost 3-1.
A chance to turn the tables on the Americans may come time VNL finals time and the South Americans will move forward boosted also by the performance on Thursday night by middle blocker Adenizia Da Silva, who contributed 15 points and whose nine blocks (out of her team's 18) might have sounded out throughout the tournament, with those finals looming. Ana Beatriz Correa also put in a huge shift for the Brazilians with 17 points.
There was huge disappointment for the Russians, who went 0-3 across this fourth round in China but never once gave up trying. There were also moments of promise, particularly in the efforts of opposite spiker Natalia Malykh, who contributed 17 points to the cause, but how damaging the loss was to their hopes in the VNL was evident in the players' faces as they left the court.
There would have been few inside the Jiangmen Sports Hall expecting the Russians to so dominate the first set, given they had run out having lost their past two matches in the VNL and having lost five in total so far - all by 3-0 margins.
Middle blocker Ekaterina Lyubushkina was a dominant force from the first whistle, commanding the net and contributing three spikes and two monster blocks in the first stanza. Brazil didn't quite seem to know what had hit them - as the 9-1 error count by the time the set ended reflected.
But the South Americans regrouped, Tandara kept finding ways past the Russian defence, and Brazil claimed the victory despite some late scares.
The loss heaps pressure on the Russians, and it looks like an uphill battle ahead given there is now basically a four-way battle between them, Turkey, the Netherlands and Italy in the race for the last two spots in the final field of six to contest the VNL finals.
On form, and points already gathered, basically they'll have to rely on other results giving them a huge helping hand when they head off to Walbrzych for a final pool that will include the Dominican Republic, hosts Poland and Japan.
Brazil's 10th win assures them a deserved place in the finals and they head to Eboli in Italy now to face Belgium, Thailand and hosts Italy, also from June 12.