Ufa, Russia, June 10, 2018 - It was Brazil vs. China, but from the off it was apparent that it was also Wallace De Souza vs. Jiang Chuan. Two of the competition's top scorers dominated throughout often being their teams go-to guys. In a demonstration of power, composure and guile it was Brazil that came through to increase their winning streak to seven consecutive matches with this straight sets win 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 27-25).
Brazil prevailed in five sets against Iran on Saturday, partly due to not being on their game from start to finish, but Renan Dal Zotto’s team were not to make the same mistake again. Wallace recorded 9 attacks in the first set, 7 in the second (including 3 aces), proving to be the dominant force.
Reigning Olympic champions Brazil are continually showing that they have an all round game, as beyond their star man there were positive performances by Douglas Souza (eight points) and libero Thales Hoss. A special mention also goes to Alan Souza who scored seven points despite only starting one set. Captain Bruno Rezende also came on and made a telling contribution, as he did yesterday against Iran to see his side home.
Chinese coach Raul Lozano will be learning from each match, but the results show that his team have not won a set in Ufa. Jiang Chuan was their shining light as usual, lifting his total tally to 172, while 18 year old Jingyin Zhang continues to make a name for himself through position 4 scoring 8 points.
This match is the 17th time these two teams have met at this level, with Brazil now leading the series 12-5. China actually won the first five encounters between 1956 and 1978 but seven of the more recent 12 wins for Brazil have now been done in straight sets.
Brazil started in second (W7-L1), three points off table toppers Poland following their 3-1 win against Bulgaria earlier today, and knew they needed a straight sets or 3-1 win to draw back level with them on points. China were in thirteen (W2-L6) and stay in the same position following this loss. In week four, Brazil will head West across Europe to Varna (Bulgaria) while China head off to Seoul (Korea).
China were unchanged after pushing Russia so close in the third set yesterday (losing 29-31), while Brazil brought Isac Santos in for Lucas Saatkamp through the middle. But it was through position 2 that Brazil has been most impressive with Wallace (currently 5th in the competitions top scorer charts) taking 5 of his teams opening 8 points. The same feat was achieved by Chinese Opposite Jiang Chuan, showing why he sits on top that that individual list.
Brazil's lead slowly grew (16-12, 20-15), and in a set dominated by the attack (only a few blocks were registered and zero aces served), it ended with Brazil taking it 25-20 – and with that, Brazil continue their incredible record of claiming a least one set in all of their last 34 world level major competition matches.
It was not to be for China in the 2nd set either, with Brazil racing to a 6-2 lead with their 208 cm tall middle blocker Isac Santos getting in on the act with a couple of big attacks. China did come back into it with some excellent setting by Tianyi Mao spreading the ball around using the full length of the net and his team finding some success with the block.
By the time the score reached 13-12 Brazil had scored a whole set worth of points through attacks alone and were seemingly in control – Wallace with more than half of them!
It would have been no surprise that it was the very same Wallace who registered the first ace of the match to tie the score at 15-15 and he then followed it up with two more to complete his hat trick. From here it was advantage Brazil as his team went on to take a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Into the third set and it was now or never for China. With fresh intent they dominated for large spells, Libin Liu being particularly effective. With a lead as they approached the twenties it was a question of how Brazil would respond, and they did with purpose coming back to take the set 27-25.
In terms of the battle of the opposites, after this performance Wallace moved up to second on 141 points and will have Jiang Chuan in his sights as the competition continues.