Brazil send home crowd wild with first Men's U23 world title
Brazil twice took the lead and Serbia twice came back to level the match before Brazil took a close tie-break for a popular home victory.
The match started evenly, but Brazil gave away too many error points early on and head coach Roberley Leonaldo called a timeout at 10-7 down. After Brazil reduced the errors the set was closer and they earned a set point at 20-19 but were denied by an Aleksandar Atanasijevic spike. Serbia went on to defend six set points in total before attacks from Rafael Araujo and captain Lucarelli gave Brazil the first set 29-27.
The second set followed a similar pattern at the start with Brazil's blocks unable to contain Serbia's attacks and the timeout came at 11-7 down. Serbia continued the same way after the stoppage with wing spikers Filip Stoilovic, Dusan Petkovic and Uros Kovacevic all supplying points as Serbia took the set 21-15 to level the match.
Brazil started the third set better than the previous two with attacking points from Henrique Pinto Otavio and Rafael putting them into an early three-point advantage which they maintained to lead 12-9 at the technical timeout. Rafael also earned some crucial points towards the end of the set, specifically a big block to put Brazil 18-15 ahead, and from there they took the set 21-17 for a 2-1 lead.
The fourth set was even up to the technical break with Rafael, Matheus Cunda and Otavio all getting points for Brazil while Atanasijevic and Kovacevic kept Serbia just ahead. Serbia went on a small run of points after the timeout that gave them the advantage and, despite some determined Brazil blocking from Otavio and Lucarelli towards the end, more Atanasijevic attacks gave Serbia the set 21-19 to level the match for the second time.
Setter Thiago Veloso turned the tie-break in Brazil's favour early on with a clever touch point and then some difficult serving that put his team a couple of points ahead. From there Lucarelli's spikes and some good blocking from Otavio and Lucas Loh kept Brazil ahead, and it was left to Rafael to spike the winning point for a 15-13 tie-break.
In the tournament's highest-scoring match, Rafael finished as Brazil's top scorer with 23 points, but the match's top scorer was Serbia captain Atanasijevic, whose 25 points almost carried his team to victory.