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FIVB World League 2006
Match Description
Brazil deny hosts Russia their second chance at the World League title

Semen Poltavsky of Russia in full flight

Some strong serving by Andre and Dante at the start of the game took Brazil to an early three-point lead. Zoran Gajic pulled his team off for a talk after only nine points had been played. Brazil reached the first technical break with the lead still intact and held on depsite an intererfence call and Giba serving out. Two consecutive Andre spikes put Brazil four points clear and Rezende's men consolidated the lead to five points at the second technical break. After things got heated in the wake of a net touch call, Russia looked poised to counter, but their serve went into the net. Brazil extended a further point before Gajic called his second time-out. Brazil then blocked out the giant Kazakov twice before Russia managed to close the lead. But as Bernardo Rezende brought on Anderson at 22-17, Andre served an ace to draw close to the first set point. Russia saved one set point before Brazil spiked out to take the first set 25-19.

Serguei Grankine's serve swerved well to open the second set, but landed out. Abramov's reply after Brazil fumbled a reception also hit the net. Both teams showed their nerves, serving out or into the net in succession. Brazil took a short lead at the first technical time-out on the back of two Russian reception errors. An uncharacteristic setting error by Brazil's team captain Ricardo handed Russia the lead on 9-8, but Brazil were quick to reply with a lightning ace from Andre. Russia's top spiker Semen Poltavsky drew his team level again but this did little to counter the effect of the powerful Brazilian serves. Brazil again extended their lead into the second technical break after Russia's reply from a difficult servce spun by Ricardo was killed by Andre Heller. Brazil stood their ground to take five points in a row after the break before Gajic called a time-out to take remedial action. As Brazil blocked and spiked their way further ahead, Russia had trouble finding a way around their defence and handed Brazil the second set after two service errors, 25-19.

Brazil looked stronger at the start of the third set but Russia recovered and took the lead into the first technical break after the South American team let a serve drop for an ace. Things didn't get any better as the home team edged to a three-point lead and an agitated Bernardinho called a time-out to iron out his team's problems. The talk had some effect as Brazil drew to within a point, but their imprecise serves prevented them from levelling. Russia moved three points clear at 20-17 and Bernardo Rezende had to gesticulate wildly to the second referee as his second time-out call went unheard in the din inside the Luzhniki sports hall. The time-out had the desired effect as Brazil drew level then blocked out the Russian attack to take the lead. Both teams' defences were put to the test in the closing stages as Russia desperately tried to avoid defeat. Their resolve prevailed as they took the third set 29-27 to force the continuation.

The presence of the tournament's tallest player, Alexey Kazakov, gave Russia the advantage on their serves in the starting minutes of the fourth set, but strong attacking by Brazil helped them to take the lead at the first technical time-out. Strong attacking helped Russia catch up but Andre served an ace just after Rezende's first time-out call to push his team ahead again. Brazil entered the second technical break a further point ahead after a Russian setting error. Team Russia had the crowd roaring as an ace took them level on 19-19 and Brazil spiked out to give Russia the lead. More strong side-outs from Brazil gave them match point but Russia saved twice to draw level at 24, 25 and 26 all until an Andre spike gave Brazil the advantage. It was then left to Giba and Andre to spike Brazil into their fourth consecutive final, winning 25-19, 25-19, 27-29, 29-27.