Brazil join hosts USA, title-holders Russia and Poland in 2019 VNL semifinals
Chicago, USA, July 12, 2019 - Brazil were the last team to qualify for the semifinals of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Friday when they defeated Iran in a thrilling 3-2 (25-20, 25-23, 24-26, 20-25, 15-10) encounter.
After three momentous days of action at the Credit Union 1 Arena in Chicago, the four semifinalists were confirmed as Brazil joined hosts USA, Russia and Poland in the penultimate stage of the competition. In the second match of the day hosts USA defeated Russia to claim leadership of Pool A ahead of the semifinals on Saturday.
2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League - Semifinals on July 13:
Poland-Russia at 17.00 local time
USA-Brazil at 20.00 local time
In the first encounter of the day, Brazil came into the match on the back of a five set defeat to Poland on Wednesday, while Iran were defeated by the same team on Thursday. Match centre: Brazil-Iran
In a match opposing the best scorer of the competition, Amir Ghafour of Iran, and its most effective attacker, Ricardo Luccarelli of Brazil, and a wealth of talent on either side of the net, the teams that finished respectively first and second of the Preliminary Round of the competition did not disappoint an enthusiastic crowd.
Iran scored the first point of the match to the rapturous applause of a partisan crowd, but Brazil rapidly found their feet to take the first two sets.
Iran returned to the court in the third set, however, by taking a four-point lead at 5-1 and held on to their advantage until Brazil levelled scores at 22-22. It was not enough to reverse the Iranian team's momentum, however, as they claimed the set 26-24.
Coach Igor Kolakovic's men continued to pile on the pressure in the fourth set methodically building on their third set momentum. The frame started where the previous one left off with both teams exchanging points. When Purya Fayazi put in a pancake dig to take his team to 23-20, however, Iran looked unstoppable. And indeed it was soon 25-20 in favour of the Asian team with a tiebreaker to look forward to.
Brazil took the first point, in a sign of things to come. The South Americans pulled out the magic when it counted most to move to 11-9 and reach match point at 14-10. A Yoandy Leal block sealed the match for Brazil at the end of a breathtaking five sets of volleyball.
The second match on Friday featured hosts USA against 2018 competition winners Russia. The two sides had already qualified for the semifinals on Thursday with one win each after France failed to win either of their Pool A matches.Match centre: USA-Russia
Coach John Speraw's USA players claimed a convincing 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-20) victory against Russia, with coach Tuomas Sammelvuo rotating his Russia players ahead of the semifinals.
Today's two winners join a youthful Poland, who have impressed onlookers in the final stages of the competition by defeating a more experienced Brazilian side in five sets before outplaying Iran in four.