Wallace's return to Sada Cruzeiro was the most remarkable move ahead of the start of the Superliga (Photo: Agencia i7/Sada Cruzeiro)

The strongest national club volleyball league in South America and arguably one of the best in the world, the Brazilian Men’s Superliga starts its 2021-2022 season, the 28th of its history, on Saturday, with three matches.

This year’s edition of the tournament will feature half of the Brazilian roster that won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics, with six players spread across four teams, and as many as 13 Olympians from three different countries.

The 12 teams entered in the tournament will play each other twice during the regular season, which will run through mid-March. The eight best-ranked teams will progress to the elimination round and the best-of-three final series could end either on April 30 (if a team wins in two matches) or May 7 (if the decision goes to the third and final match of the series).

Three-time FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship winners and six-time Superliga champions Sada Cruzeiro Volei continue to have one of the strongest rosters in the country despite the departures of opposite Alan Souza and Argentineans Facundo Conte (outside hitter) and Marcelo Mendez (coach). Longtime team captain Filipe Ferraz is now responsible for the coaching duties while 2021 Volleyball Nations League MVP Wallace de Souza has returned to the club to form the core of the team with Olympians Fernando ‘Cachopa’ Kreling (setter), Isac Santos (middle blocker) and Cuban Miguel Angel Lopez (outside hitter).


Minas added veterans Mauricio Souza and Leandro Vissotto to an already strong core (Photo: MTC)

Their main competitors could well be in-state rivals Fiat Gerdau Minas, who have won the tournament four times. The team have brought in Rio 2016 Olympic champion middle blocker Mauricio Souza and world champion opposite Leandro Vissotto to join setter and captain Willian Arjona, national team libero Maique Nascimento and rising star outside hitter Henrique Honorato.

Two-time winners Funvic Edudacoin Natal enter the season with a new roster and in a new home city as the team have moved to Natal. Instead of a star-studded lineup, as was the case in the last few years, head coach Javier Weber will lead a young squad which will rely on national team players Thales Hoss (libero) and Felipe Roque (opposite), Cuban outside hitter Luis Estrada and setter Murilo Radke, who returns to Brazil after four years in Europe to captain the team.

One of the players who left Funvic ahead of the start of the season was Olympic champion middle blocker Lucas Saatkamp, who joined Volei Renata. They already had Argentinean setter Damien Gonzalez and also added Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist opposite Evandro Guerra and up-and-coming outside hitter Adriano Xavier ahead of their attempt to claim the Brazilian title for the first time.

Volei Renata Sesi

Longtime teammates on the Brazilian national team, Lucas, Eder and Murilo will be on different sides of the net on the opening day of the Brazilian men's league (Photo: Volei Renata)

Sesi, who prevailed in the 2010-2011 edition, also feature a few popular faces in longtime Brazilian national team captain and outside hitter Murilo Endres, Rio 2016 Olympic champion middle blocker Eder Carbonera and explosive opposite Darlan Souza, who recently represented Brazil at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship. They all work under the guidance of Athens 2004 Olympic champion Anderson Rodrigues.

Several other former Brazil national team players are spread across the other seven clubs in the league, most notably libero Tiago Brendle at Apan Eleva Blumenau and setter Marlon Muraguti and opposite Renan Buiatti at Farma Conde Sao Jose. Promoted from the country’s second division, Brasilia Volei, who count on Cuban setter Adrian Goide, and Goias will also compete in the elite of the country, as will Azulim Gabarito Uberlandia, Montes Claros America Volei and Vedacit Volei Guarulhos.

The first matchday of the league will see Sada Cruzeiro take on Sao Jose, Volei Renata meet Sesi and Montes Claros clash with Brasilia.

Check out the full schedule, results and statistics on the official website of the Brazilian Men’s Superliga