A solid performance by Cuban veteran Michael Sanchez helped Minas finish first in the Superliga

Reigning Brazilian Cup champions Fiat Gerdau Minas claimed first place in the country’s men’s Superliga as the regular season came to an end on Saturday.

The nine-time national champions entered the last day of the initial phase of the tournament needing a win to confirm the top spot. They will have home court advantage in the playoff series and got what they needed with a straight-set (25-22, 25-23, 25-21) road victory against Apan Eleva Blumenau.

Minas, who finished the regular season with 61 points (20 wins, two losses), benefited from a great performance by team captain and setter William Arjona. The Rio 2016 Olympic champion helped outside hitter Henrique Honorato (12 points), middle blocker Matheus Pinta (11) and Cuban opposite Michael Sanchez (ten) all reach double digits in scoring.

“Finishing first is great,” said Sanchez, who received the Player of the Match award. “Having the ability to start the playoff series at home, in front of our fans, will put us in a position to start ahead and that can be a massive advantage.”

Minas’ quarterfinal opponents will be Volei FUNVIC Natal, the fourth-place finishers at last year’s FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship. The team of Brazilian national team libero Thales Hoss ended the regular season in eighth place with 31 points (11 wins, 11 losses). They were the ones who ended Minas' unbeaten run of 14 matches in February.

Reigning world champions Sada Cruzeiro Volei defeated Vedacit Volei Guarulhos 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-21) to finish second with 59 points (20 wins, two losses). They will start their playoff campaign against Farma Conde Sao Jose, who finished seventh with 32 points (ten wins, 12 losses).

The most-anticipated matchup of the quarterfinals will arguably be the one involving third-placed SESI-SP and sixth-placed Volei Renata. The team from Sao Paulo have a pair of Olympic medallists on their roster in middle blocker Eder Carbonera and Murilo Endres, while the Campinas side feature two members of the Brazilian squad that took gold at the Rio 2016 Games in middle blocker Lucas Saatkamp and opposite Evandro Guerra.

SESI ended their regular season campaign with 45 points (17 wins, losses) after they came out on top of a five-set (25-21, 22-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-12) battle with Farma Conde, while Volei Renata downed Brasilia Volei in straight sets (25-22, 27-25, 25-21) to get to 35 (12 wins, ten losses).

The fourth quarterfinal matchup of the Superliga will reunite Volei Guarulhos, who finished fourth with 39 points (12 wins, ten losses), and Blumenau, who were fifth with 37 (13 wins, nine losses).

The quarterfinal round will be played in a best-of-three series.