Brazil down Russia in straight sets to assert its credentials for Olympic gold
The result reflects the outcome of their previous clash dating back to the 2011 FIVB World Cup in Japan where Brazil inflicted Russia their only defeat in the tournament. Murilo Endres paced Brazil with 13 points but it was Russia’s lack of accuracy that paved the way with gold for the South Americans who benefited from 28 errors committed by the players coached by Vladimir Alekno. With this result Brazil got the right boost of confidence to play on Thursday the only other unbeaten team in the Pool, the 2008 Olympic champions from USA.
The first set was close as both sides warmed up. Dmitriy Ilinykh started well for Russia as he hit three of his side’s first eight points and the winners of the 2011 FIVB World Cup went into the first technical time-out with a two-point lead. Brazil soon leveled matters as Russia began to commit errors. The score stayed even but Brazil grew in confidence as the set went on, a superb roll shot from Bruno Rezende being the highlight. Brazil eventually established a lead and took the set 25-21. However, Russia were incensed at first referee’s Bela Hobor decision to give Brazil the winning point as the ball was ruled to have touched a Russian player last.
Maxim Mikhaylov gave Russia a boost at the start of the second set with some impressive spiking but, in front of a crowd rocking to the samba beat, Brazil found their form once again as they opened up a three-point lead to make it 6-3. Russia was often architect of their own downfall with some poor serving, often from Dmitriy Muserskiy. Brazil reveled in Russia’s poor decision making and started to run away with things as they led 18-12. Murilo Endres was starting to run the show for the South American side as Russia fell to pieces. Despite restoring some pride, Russia handed Brazil the set at 25-23 as Muserskiy again fired a serve into the net.
The final set was tight in the beginning and Brazil’s libero, Sergio Santos was proving to be one of their key players countering Russia’s attacking power. Russia began to up their game and top scorer, Muserskiy, succeeded in finding gaps at the net. As the set developed, Brazil’s blocking improved once again, but Russia led 16-15 at the second technical time-out. However, Brazil were not done - they knew victory was theirs and put a fine run of points together a they took the final set 25-21 to send the watching Brazilians wild in the stands.
In the next round of matches on Thursday, Brazil will face another strong side, USA, whilst Russia has the seemingly easier task of taking on Tunisia that has lost both of its matches so far.