Brazil coach Ze Roberto celebrates victory.
Osaka, Japan, November 9, 2006 -- Brazil recorded one of the most dramatic victories of the World Championships on Thursday when they came back from two sets down to defeat China 3-2 and maintain their unbeaten record in the tournament.
An amazing match ended after two and a quarter hours with the Brazilians victorious by 24-26, 20-25, 25-21, 25-16, 19-17. China's record fell to 2-3.
The two teams eyed each other up in the first section, but then Jaqueline Carvalho delivered three monster spikes and a brilliant dig as the Brazilians took an 8-6 lead at the first technical timeout. But then the Brazilians went off the boil and allowed China to get back into the game, with the Chinese players spreading the points around. But the Brazilians dug in and were a point ahead at the second TTO. But it stayed close, with the teams level at 17. The introduction of captain and setter Fofao again paid dividends for Brazil and she set up Carvalho for a couple of monster spikes as the Brazilians moved into 22-19 lead. But a wide serve by Walewska Oliveira, a mixup between two players and a failed service return by Fabi brought China level. An ace by Yang Hao put the Chinese a point up, but Brazil pulled back to 24-24. But two big spikes by Wang Yimei finished things off and put the Chinese a set up.
The shell-shocked Brazilians, who had lost only two sets in five matches, were still reeling at the start of the second set and quickly fell behind 6-2 as Yang, Wang and Zhou Suhong continued the pressure play that was so effective in the first set.
Two spikes by Welissa Gonzaga brought Brazil some hope, but the Brazilians fell back to 14-8 before Yang planted a spike wide after a long rally. Carvalho then smashed a spike through the Chinese defense and teamed up with Oliveira for a great block on Zhou, pulling the score back to 14-11. A couple more Carvalho spikes took the Brazilians to within a point of China at 16-15 but Wang again came up big to stretch the lead to four points. But incredibly Brazil made three consecutive service errors to virtually hand the Chinese the set. Xu Yunli finished things off with a short push that fell into space and the Brazilians were down 0-2.
Brazil felt things go their way at the beginning of the third set and eased into a 4-1 lead, forcing the Chinese to call a timeout. Carvalho came up with two huge spikes as the Brazilians led 8-4 at the first TTO. But the Chinese fought back through Yang and Wang and soon drew level at 9-9. The middle of the match turned into a mini-big bang as both sides threw down heavy hits. The score was tied at 14 when Zhang Ping sent a short spike long and Sheilla Castro delivered a good spike to give her team a 16-14 lead, which was doubled by two terrific blocks from Oliveira and Castro on Wang. Wang then returned the compliment and came up with a big spike to draw China to within one point, but a couple of Chinese errors allowed Brazil to pull away for good. Setpoint came when the hard-serving Wang found the net and salvation, of a sort, came for Brazil with a big spike from Fabiana Claudinho.
Wang tried to hold off Brazil single-handedly at the beginning of the fourth set, coming up with two good spikes and a nice soft push, but the Brazilians were starting to defend and coordinate better and they were three points up at the first TTO and six at the second. Brazil then got in some big hits from Claudinho, Gonzaga and Oliveira to take an eight-point lead. They were held up by some good play from Xu, but another spike by Claudinho from a short set -- a tactic used very effectively in Brazil's comeback -- brought setpoint, and a block by Gonzaga on Xu evened the set score at 2-2.
China pulled away from 5-5 in the tiebreak set to 8-5 on good spikes by Xu and Feng Kun, as well as a good serve by Xu that Brazil couldn't handle. But spiking misses by Wang brought the Brazilians back to 8-8. From then, it was a slugfest to the end and both teams showed some stunning defending. Brazil failed to convert a setpoint at 14-13, then China failed, twice, and Brazil missed again. The action was incredibly intense at this stage and the tension got to Xu as she stuffed a serve into the net on matchpoint. After China saved that one, another spike by Claudinho off a short set from Fofao gave the Brazilians matchpoint again and Claudinho and Castro then finished off the incredible match with a fine block on China's Wang.