Nagoya, Japan, November 23, 2009 - Brazil clinched their third FIVB World Grand Champions Cup on Monday by sweeping Japan 3-0 in the last match to finish the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record. The South American champions, winners of this inter-continental title in 1997 and 2005, showed Japan who was boss in a comprehensive 25-12, 26-24, 25-22 victory. Japan finished the week at 3-2, good enough to take the bronze medal behind Cuba (4-1) – Japan’s first podium finish in an FIVB event for 32 years.
Brazil overwhelmed Japan in the opening exchanges, romping into an 8-1 lead at the first TTO behind some high blocking and scintillating moves that left the Japanese defence chasing shadows. Brazil attacked in a blur of canary yellow, with Lucas pounding some huge winners through the middle and Giba and Murilo sending the ball fizzing down the court and into the seats. The fast and accurate serves of Murilo laid the foundations for this furious onslaught, and Japan headed into the TO dizzy from the lesson they had just received. On the resumption, Rodrigao climbed and spiked as easily as plucking an apple off a tree, and Japan were off again for a TO at 13-5. Yusuke Ishijima outfoxed Vissotto at one point, before the Brazilian ace hit one down the right for 16-7 at the second TTO. Giba added an imperious back-court winner for 20-8, and then jumped and spiked from the left. Lucas and Murilo both made attack errors to offer Japan a glimmer of hope for the future, but not for this set as the gap was too big and Brazil took it 25-12.
Shimizu, with four spikes in the first set, and Yoneyama gave the home fans something to cheer as Japan stayed in touch at the start of the second set, and Fukuzawa drilled one past a diving libero - Sergio - for 6-6. The tall and bearded frame of Lucas sent Brazil into the first TTO with a one-point advantage, 8-7. When Giba extended that lead to three points, 11-8, Japan called a TO as Brazil started to build some momentum. Vissotto, Murilo and Giba all found holes in the Japan defence and Brazil were four clear, 16-12, at the second TTO. Substitute Yusuke Matsuta blocked Murilo to reduce Japan’s arrears to two at 17-15, but Murilo was quickly back for more and his flashing attack from the right sent Japan into a TO down 20-15. Rodrigao brought up four set points at 24-20 but some inspired serving by Ishijima helped Japan save three of them; Brazil took a TO leading 24-23 with just one chance left. Ishijima’s next delivery crashed into the net cord and bobbled over for his second ace and 24-24. On Brazil’s fifth set point at 25-24, Shimizu spiked wide down the right and Brazil had the second set, too, 26-24.
Giba was clearly in the mood to finish this one in three and led his team’s third-set charge, but Brazil would have to maintain focus to keep Japan under control. The home team trailed by just one, 8-7, at the first TTO. When that lead grew to 10-7 after a flowing Giba back-court swoop, Japan called a TO. Murilo, with a blockbuster spike and service ace, maintained the pressure on Japan, before Rodrigao took over with some pounding winners at the net. Murilo, who was having an outstanding match to finish, what was for him, an outstanding tournament, fired Brazil into the second TTO at 16-11. After a TO at 19-14, Japan regrouped for one last push to try and claim the third set, and with the help of some Ishijima spiking and careless Brazil attacks, they reduced the gap to 20-18 and forced Brazil into a TO. Japan pushed Brazil all the way down the stretch but the South American kings closed it 25-22 on their first match point.