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Brazil overcome Italy 3-0 to top standings in World Grand Prix Finals


Thaisa Menezes prepares to strike against Italy on Friday

 Sapporo, Japan, August 30, 2013 – Brazil beat Italy 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-11) in the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center on Friday.

It was Brazil’s third straight 3-0 win and put them on top of the standings, one point ahead of China. Italy fell to 0-3.

Brazil were led by Thaisa Menezes with 16 points, including five service points. Italy’s top scorer was Valentina Diouf with 13 points.

Brazil picked up 14 blocking points to Italy’s four and an impressive 13 service points to Italy’s three. Italy made 15 errors and Brazil nine.

Brazil eased to an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout with a couple of good shots from Gabriela Guimaraes and a nice block from captain Fabiana Claudino on the big-hitting Indre Sorokaite. Fernanda Rodrigues and Sheilla Castro helped Brazil’s score along in the second phase and the Olympic champions were 16-8 ahead at the second TTO. Thaisa Menezes blocked Valentina Diouf and sent a cross-court shot zinging through the Italian defence to bring up setpoint at 24-14 and she then ended the set at 25-16 with a kill.

It wasn’t quite so easy in the second set. Early Brazil spiking errors allowed Italy to take a slight lead before Guimaraes delivered a thunderbolt to even the scores at 3-3. Thaisa served successive aces as Brazil moved into a 7-4 lead, but Diouf slugged Italy back into the match and it remained tight to 15-15 when Italy opened up a three-point gap. Brazil coach Ze Roberto called a timeout and Brazil fought back to 20-20 when Italian coach Marco Mencarelli called his players off court. A cracking drive by Cristina Barcellini earned Italy setpoint at 24-23 but then she blew her serve. A Sheilla Castro service point gave Brazil a chance of taking the set and Diouf obliged by sending a spike long. 

The Italians didn’t help their cause with some sloppy play early in the third set, sending shots long or into the net, and Brazil cruised to an 8-3 lead at the first TTO. A service ace by Guimaraes and a block by Rodrigues on Sorokaite extended that to 10-3 and the margin was 10 points at the second TTO after a lucky serve by Danielle Lins. Brazil followed up with three straight blocks and now it was all one-way traffic. 

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