Tokyo, Japan, August 20, 2009: Olympic champions Brazil swept China 3-0 in the second match of the second day of the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Thursday afternoon.
The seven-time Grand Prix champions were much too fast and experienced for China, and sped to a 25-21, 25-20, 31-29 victory. But they had to save three set points in the third before clinching on their fifth match ball.
With their latest success, Brazil improved their win-loss record to 2-0 and dropped China, the 2003 Grand Prix champions, to 0-2 with three games to play.
Brazil set off at a cracking pace and led 8-6 at the first TTO. When the lead grew to three at 15-12, China called a TO. China’s block improved significantly, and when Brazil’s lead was cut to 22-20, head coach Ze Roberto called a TO.
Sheilla Castro struck from the right for 23-20 on the restart, and a wild spike by Zhao Yanni handed Brazil four set points. Although Yin Na saved the first with a clean spike up the right, Natalia Pereira’s left-wing blast was too strong for the Chinese defence and Brazil took the opening frame 25-21 in business-like fashion.
Sheilla scored nine points in the first set, with seven spikes, one block and one serve, while centre players Fabiana Claudino and Thaisa Menezes both had two block points and two spikes.
In reply, Chinese middle blockers Xue Ming and Ma Yunwen both had five points, as did the powerful spiker Zhao.
In the second set, Chu Jinling and Natalia exchanged hard spikes out wide, but on a Chinese attack error, coach Cai Bin called a TO down 6-3.
Xue added a service ace to take China closer, and Li Juan breached the Brazilian defence with a fluid back-court attack. When Sheilla tried to do the same but saw her spike loop back, Mari Steinbrecher finished off the play for 8-7 Brazil at the first TTO.
On the restart, Sheilla’s powerful attack down the middle was followed by Fabiana’s flick, and Brazil began to pull away at 13-9, forcing a China TO.
Thaisa walloped another big winner at the net to keep Brazil moving forward in a fast-paced game, and Natalia scored nonchalantly on the left wing for 16-13 at the second TTO.
Although the Chinese were hanging on, Brazil had too many aces and could produce points from all areas of the court, especially when Sheilla took off for another mission from the back court.
Good work on attack and block by Mari carried Brazil to 22-16, but when China picked up the next three points Brazil called a TO still in front at 22-19. Brazil had four set points at 24-20, and Thaisa finished it at the net 25-20, 2-0.
The points continued to flow in the third set and China gave as good as they got, and when a block on Li dropped wide, China led 8-7 at the first TTO.
On the restart, Sheilla could not control Li’s spike and China had the rare luxury of a two-point lead. Chu continued to produce some crashing winners to make sure Brazil did not relax. Brazil turned to Natalia to counter, and the 20-year-old attacker had coach Ze Roberto applauding on the sideline with some ferocious hitting.
A block on Mari took China into the second TTO ahead 16-14, and Ma kept China moving forward after the break with an angled drive from the right.
At 17-17, China took a TO to try and regain their rhythm, but on losing the next two points went off again as Brazil moved in for the kill, hitting their stride at 19-17.
Natalia turned up the heat to blaze through the Chinese defence, but Sheilla was having a harder time of it on the opposite flank.
A back-court attack from Sheilla took Brazil to two match points at 24-22, but their combinations broke down at a crucial time and the chances disappeared.
Brazil had to save three set points before ending the match with a Mari block on their fifth match point, 31-29.