The first encounter between Brazil and Serbia in the Volleyball Nations League 2023, on Thursday, in Brasilia, was worthy of two teams that competed in the gold medal match of the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship exactly eight months ago, but had new protagonists.
Pushed by 8,000 fans that packed the Nilson Nelson Stadium in their country’s capital, the South Americans got back on the two-time world champions and secured a dramatic 3-2 (23-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-12, 15-11) victory to send their passionate home crowd back home with smiles in their faces.
The fifth Brazilian victory in the VNL 2023 moved the team to third place in the standings, with 15 points. The Serbians, who won their first match in the tournament two days ago, are 12th.
Brazil and Serbia had each ten players who appeared in the World Championship gold medal match on the court on Thursday in Brasilia while the Europeans also featured a new coach in Italian Giovanni Guidetti.
Two-time Olympic champion middle blocker Thaisa Menezes, who returned to the Brazilian national team this week after five years away and didn’t feature in the decisive match eight months ago, was a beast at the net for the Tokyo Olympic silver medallists, producing a match-high 18 points with incredible nine blocks, eight kills and one ace.
Opposite Kisy Nascimento also had an excellent night with 16 points (13 kills, three aces). She praised newcomer outside hitter Maiara Basso, who came off the bench to score 11 points and contribute to the Brazilian victory.
“This victory rewards our fighting spirit and the strength of our roster,” Kisy commented. “Even when we were trailing, we kept fighting and believing that the match would come our way. Maiara came off the bench and did a great job today, helping us in difficult moments. We have to thank the fans too as they kept pushing us the entire time.”
Serbian young sensation Aleksandra Uzelac, who also didn’t feature in the World Championship final, had another strong showing, leading her team’s offense with 17 points (16 kills, one block). Middle blocker Jovana Stevanovic and outside hitter Sara Lozo, who came off the bench in the second set, tallied 13 points each.
Brazil benefited from the higher number of Serbian errors (35 to 20) to secure their victory. The South Americans were also better with their blocking (18 to 13), while the Europeans were more effective in their offense (58 kills to 54) and serving (four aces to two).
Earlier on Thursday in Brasilia, Japan claimed their fourth victory in the VNL 2023, defeating Asian rivals Korea, who are yet to win a set in the tournament, 3-0 (25-18, 25-13, 25-19).
Japanese outside hitter Arisa Inoue led all scorers with 12 points (nine kills, three aces), followed by fellow outside hitter Mayu Ishikawa and middle blocker Nichika Yamada, with 11 each. Outside hitter Jeon Jiyun added eight points for the Koreans.
Friday’s match schedule at the Nilson Nelson Stadium will include three more Pool 4 matches. The day starts with the duel between Japan and Germany at 14:00 local time (17:00 UTC), continues with the encounter between Korea and Croatia at 17:30 local time (20:30 UTC) and ends with the match reuniting Serbia and Thailand at 21:00 local time (00:00 UTC, Saturday).
Source: Volleyball Nation League