London 2012

Press release

Brazil save six match balls to finally edge Russia and take on Japan in the semis

The Brazilian supporters in attendance at Earls Court stood on their feet as their heroines clawed back in the deciding tie-break of the 1/4 final match with Russia to make it to the semis of the Olympic tournament

London, Great Britain, August 7, 2012 – Brazil qualified for the semis of the 2012 Olympics after a memorable match where the 2008 Olympic champions stormed back twice from one set down and even saved six match balls to eventually edge Russia 3-2 (24-26, 25-22, 19-25, 25-22, and 21-19). Sheilla Castro paced Brazil with 27 points while Thaisa Menezes chipped in with 24; Russia’s offense was anchored by Liubov Shashkova with 28, as 25 points apiece were scored by Ekaterina Gamova and Nataliya Goncharova.

With this result Brazil improved its Olympic record with Russia to 4 wins and 2 losses and will challenge Japan in the semis coming up on Thursday. The game was really emotional, lasting for more than 2 hours and 20 minutes, and packed with continuous turnarounds, with the South Americans always believing in their chances to make it to the next stage of the competition. Russian star and FIVB hero Ekaterina Gamova bid farewell to the national team at the end of this match as she had announced before traveling to London the Olympics would have been her last appearance with the jersey of the “sbornaya”. 

Beijing 2008 gold medal winners Brazil had struggled to get out of qualifying pool B, while the powerful Russians had won all five of their matches in pool A.
Brazil’s attackers Sheilla Castro, Jaqueline Carvalho, Fernanda Rodrigues, Fabiana Claudino and Thaisa Menezes all spiked early in set one.
Nataliya Goncharova and Ekaterina Gamova led the Russian scoring, as they had done in all previous matches. The sides were level at 23-23 before a couple of errors from Brazil led to Russia taking the set 26-24.
Brazil took an 18-10 point lead in the second set, with Castro, Menezes, and captain Claudino standing out. With accurate setter Evgeniya Startseva feeding Gamova, Goncharova and the excellent Liubov Shashkova, the Russians cut the deficit to three points but Brazil hung on to win 25-22.
Russia’s power told in the third set with Gamova dominant as they pulled ahead to win the set 25-19.
Gamova was again outstanding in the fourth as the sides took turns to lead. But Brazil were scoring from all over the court, and with Castro and Menezes leading the way, they won 25-22 and forced a fifth set.
The final set was a thriller and neither side deserved to lose as the match ran to two hours 21 minutes, but the South Americans edged it in barely believable style. They saved six match points before finally getting and converting their first chance to seize the day.


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