Sunday, August 4, 2013

National Team | Brazil beats USA in World Grand Prix volleyball pool play

Rivalry heats up; Washington alums Miyashiro and Hagglund contribute
·         #2 Brazil def. #1 USA 3-1 (17-25, 25-23, 25-28, 25-20)
·         next: #1 USA vs. #14 Algeria | August 9, 2013 | Belgrade, Serbia

One of the best rivalries in international sport just got better.

Brazilian players celebrate a point against USA during pool play action in Campinas, Brazil
-photo courtesy FIVB
Brazil’s 3-1 home-court World Grand Prix volleyball victory over USA Sunday in Campinas ensured that the world’s top two teams will continue to take each other seriously on the long road to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

On the one hand, that seems obvious, since the two teams have met in the past two Olympic finals, with Brazil winning the gold both times. But Brazil’s 2012 London victory broke a six-match USA win streak between the two programs, and USA prevailed again earlier this summer during the Pan Am Cup. USA is the three-time defending World Grand Prix champion—the Americans came in with an 18-match Grand Prix winning streak—and no country has ever won the tournament four years in a row.

Brazil, then, needed a pool play home win over USA to make the point that their London gold was not a fluke and that USA cannot take its top ranking for granted.

This was the third match of the nine-match preliminary round—USA travels to Serbia for its next three contests—and USA coach Karch Kiraly brought just two of his 2012 Olympians for the Brazil round: Libero Tama Miyashiro and Middle Blocker Christa Harmotto. Miyashiro played all four sets against and recorded 10 digs and 4 “excellent” serve receptions. Harmotto had 13 kills, to go with 13 by Kim Hill and 10 by Kristin Hildebrand. Washington alum Jenna Hagglund made brief appearances in each of the final three sets. Overall, Brazil and USA hit nearly identical percentages, 40% to 39%.

By contrast, Brazil’s lineup included twice as many of its 2012 Olympians, including Fabiana Claudino, Dani Lins, Adenizia da Silva and Sheila Castro.

After nine pool play matches, the top eight teams will advance to the final round at the end of the month in Sapporo, Japan. Don’t be surprised if USA and Brazil meet yet again this summer.

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