Russia persevered through a five-set battle to overcome Brazil on Thursday at Levski Sofia volleyball hall in Bulgaria. After the withdrawal of Cameroon, who forfeited their matches, the encounter between Russia and Brazil was the only Pool D game on FIVB Volleyball U21 Men’s World Championship opening day.

In a hard-fought battle between two powerful teams, Russia came back from a set down twice to emerge on top with a 3-2 (16-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 15-9) victory. After a 7-7 tie in the tie-breaker, Russia went on a rampage, with opposite Roman Murashko behind the serving line, to gain a 12-7 lead and never look back. Outside Stanislav Dineykin hammered the winner to shape the match high to 18 points and share the top of the scorers chart with Brazil’s Darlan Souza. Paulo Ferreira da Silva was Brazil’s most prolific player on 17.

The South Americans not only made fewer errors than the Europeans, but also scored more points in serving and blocking. However, the Russians clearly outplayed the opponents in offence, spiking successfully 57 times against Brazil’s 47.

“The first set was a nightmare for us. We didn’t serve, we didn’t attack and Brazil played very well. But we started better in the second set and managed to win it. The most important moment in the game was the fourth set which gave us a chance to win the match,” said Russian outside and captain Ilya Kazachenkov.