Bologna, Italy, September 23, 2018 - As if it was a big final, but ‘only’ counting for Pool F of the second round in the FIVB Men’s World Championship, PalaDozza in Bologna hosted the last match in the group – the much anticipated clash featuring Belgium vs. Brazil. As many as 5,200 spectators watched this matchup and confirmed Bologna’s status as a city that loves volleyball.
The reigning Olympic champions started quite bad, trailing 0-2, but came back to 2-2 and stormed to an eventual 3-2 victory (22-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-15, 15-12), showing why they have won three times the gold medals in the history of the World Championships. An outstanding Evandro Guerra (top scorer with 30 points) confirmed once again Brazil’s status as one of the big favourites in the competition as this victory will for sure make the Brazilians dream even more about reaching the final.
Douglas Souza (14 points) helped his teammates come back in the match, as he was the leader on the court in the third set, when Brazil ‘woke up’. Eder Carbonera (10 points) too was much of a help.
Sam Deroo (19 points) and Bram Van den Dries (18 points) from the Red Dragons were most prolific for their team.
The Brazilian head coach Renan Dal Zotto started the match giving some rest to the regular starting players (with only libero Maique Reis Nascimento on the court). Belgium, who entered the court highly motivated for the win, were leading at 8-5 by the time of the first technical timeout. The Red Dragons kept their leadership thanks to a good performance by Igor Grobelny and Bram Van den Dries and with the result being 20-17 for Belgium, Renan Dal Zotto called a timeout. Again, Van den Dries killed the ball at 23-20 and the Brazilian head coach made yet another attempt at changing the situation. At 24-22, Isac Santos entered the court for serving, but made a mistake and Belgium opened the match with a 25-22 win.
Many interesting rallies marked the beginning of the second set with Belgium taking the lead, but Evandro Guerra scored two aces in a row to get Brazil close to the opponents. Eder Carbonera also recorded one ace to his name in these moments and equalised for 10-10. Because of their unforced errors, Belgium lost a little bit of their concentration, and Brazil took the lead at 13-11. Sam Deroo (eight points in the set) helped Belgium get closer at 16-17 and the play continued point-for-point (20-20, 21-21). Brazil were leading at 23-21 but the Red Dragons showed fighting spirit and Pieter Coolman with an ace put an end to the discussion for 25-23.
Douglas Souza – the top scorer from the Brazil vs. Slovenia match, entered the court in the third set, as this way Renan Dal Zotto showed his team might have qualified for the Final Six already, but was still seeking for the victory. It worked out good as Brazil were leading with a small gap for most of the time. Belgium ‘woke up’ at 13-14, but the reigning Olympic champions managed to control the game at 17-14. A nice performance by Igor Grobelny kept the Belgian hopes in this set alive but Douglas Souza closed it with a thunderous ace for 25-19.
It was a close affair in the first minutes of the next set, but Brazil broke away with a series of straight points for 11-6. Andrea Anastasi took a timeout, but the Brazilian players were just too dominant and Belgium would not be able to regroup. The South Americans outclassed their opponents in all aspects of the game and took the set at a landslide 25-15.
Brazil scored the first point in the tiebreak and did not let any chances to Belgium to take the lead. Douglas Souza recorded an ace for 12-8. Anastasi called a timeout and it produced some effect, as a little bit later Grobelny made an ace. However, he gave the Brazilians the opportunity for a first match point because of a serve error, right after that ace. Brazil then closed the set and the match at 15-12.