The Most Valuable Player of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Wallace de Souza had a happy night on his return to Sada Cruzeiro Volei. The 34-year-old opposite helped the team win its opening match in the Minas Gerais State Championship on Thursday.

A Rio 2016 Olympic champion with Brazil, Wallace returned to Sada Cruzeiro, a team he had played for seven years between 2009 and 2016, ahead of the 2021-2022 club season. In his first official match, the veteran scored 14 points (12 kills, two blocks) and led the silver medalists of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship to victory against Montes Claros America Volei 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-17).

A 2021 VNL gold medallist, Wallace won as many as 21 trophies in his first stint with Sada Cruzeiro, most notably a pair of gold medals at the 2013 and 2015 FIVB Men’s Club World Championships, four titles in the Brazilian Superliga and three in the South American Club Championship. He played in Turkey with Spor Toto Kulubu last season.

“I’m very excited to be back with Sada Cruzeiro,” he said after the match. “I have such a strong connection with the team and the opportunity to return is really pleasant. I hope I can help the teams win a lot of trophies and meet the expectations of the fans. It feels great to be playing in Brazil again and even better to be able to do it in a team that means so much to me.”

On his return, Wallace found a familiar face in charge of the team. It wasn’t Marcelo Mendez, who coached Sada Cruzeiro from 2009 to 2021 and left right before leading Argentina to bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

With the departure of the Argentinean, the Brazilian club selected legendary former outside hitter Filipe Ferraz, who played and captained Sada Cruzeiro between 2010 and 2021 and retired at the conclusion of the last season, to be the team’s new coach.

“It’s been a different dynamic with him as the coach now,” Wallace said. “But he’s doing really well in his new role. Being able to support him in this new moment of his career was another reason that made me want to come back. We have a great relationship and I hope I can help him.”

Filipe instructs Isac before the start of the match

Filipe instructs Isac before the start of the match

The Olympic champion was the most remarkable signing of the club for the this season, alongside outside hitter Lucas Loh, who is yet to make his debut. Sada Cruzeiro’s core also includes Tokyo Olympians Fernando ‘Cachopa’ Kreling, setter, and Isac Santos, middle blocker, besides Cuban outside hitter Miguel Angel Lopez.

Sada Cruzeiro return to the court on Friday, for their second match in the Minas Gerais State Championship, against Praia Uberlandia Volei.