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Brazil's Natalia closing on rare hat-trick

The newcomer Natalia (L) and the experienced Sheilla are Brazil's joint-leading scorers

Tokyo, Japan, November 10, 2010 – Natalia Pereira is zeroing in on a rare hat-trick in Volleyball as her Brazil team continue on their successful path at the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship in Japan.

The talented Natalia was a key member of the Brazil squad that claimed the gold medal at the 2005 Girl's Youth Worlds in Macau and two years later she repeated the feat when the 2007 Women's Junior Championship took place in Thailand.

FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010 official page

Now Ze Roberto Guimaraes's charges are one of four sides still in contention for the gold medal at Japan 2010 and will travel to Tokyo as one of two undefeated squads along with defending champions Russia.

The 21-year-old Natalia is playing in the starting team only because of the absence of several of Brazil's older guard due to injuries. Neither Mari Steinbrecher nor Paola Pequeno could make the trip to Japan because of knee problems sustained during this year's World Grand Prix.

Yet Natalia has been one of the reasons for their unbeaten record in nine outings. After two rounds, she is tied with Sheilla Castro as their top scorer with 129 points.

"You always miss players like Mari and Paola because they have the experience of the Olympics and past World Championships," Ze Roberto says. "But Natalia has been doing a fantastic job and making the most out of the opportunity and responsibility.
"I am really not surprised because Natalia has been training with the senior team since she was 16 so we more or less can say she was prepared for this moment," he added.

One surprise for Natalia is the unexpected starting role that she has assumed to excellent effect during the first two stages of the World Championship.

"To say the truth I didn't expect this happening so fast, sometimes it is better to be lucky," says Natalia. "It is a big responsibility but the other girls have been helping me a lot to cope with the pressure and I will give my best to take the title back to Brazil."

On her chances of being a triple-world champion at the three FIVB different levels of competition, the Brazilian prodigy says she is not paying much attention for the moment.

"At this moment I am not even thinking about it because we are very focused on winning the championship. The group is well motivated and united and I want to contribute as much as I can to win it all. The rest will come as a consequence."

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