Maique determined to take Minas to Club World Champs final
The Brazilian national team libero is confident his club can continue to fight for titles next week in Betim
Published 08:00, 01 Dec 2022
One of six teams set to compete at the Club World Champs, Minas will be looking for their first medal after finishing seventh in their only appearance so far, in 2016. The tournament will be played only a few miles away from their hometown Belo Horizonte from December 7-11.
Although the current club season started only just over a month ago, Minas have already been in two finals. The Brazilian club played in the gold medal matches of the Brazilian Supercup and of the Minas Gerais State Championship, falling to in-state rivals, reigning world champions and fellow Club World Championship participants Sada Cruzeiro Volei on both occasions.
Maique, a 25-year-old libero who has been with Minas since 2016 and won 2021 Brazilian Cup gold and silver in the last two editions of the Brazilian Superliga, is enthusiastic about his team’s start this season.
“Getting to play in two finals so early in the season was really exciting for us,” he said. “I believe we’re improving a lot and that shows we’re doing very good work both individually and as a team. We are aware of our potential, we know where we want to go and we understand that we’ll need to improve individually in order to get better as a team.”
A Brazilian national team player since 2018, Maique recently helped his country win bronze at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship. At the international level, he also took silver at the 2018 World Championship and gold at the 2021 Volleyball Nations League and 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup.
One of the players who has been with the team for the longest, the libero plays an important role for Minas alongside veteran setter William Arjona, a Rio 2016 Olympic champion, and 39-year-old opposite Leandro Vissotto, a 2010 world champion and London 2012 Olympic silver medallist.
Minas also rely on some up-and-coming players who earned national team call-ups over the last two seasons, including outside hitter Henrique Honorato and middle blocker Matheus ‘Pinta’ Bispo. The club also strengthened their team for the 2022-2023 season with the addition of outside hitter Luis Elian, a former Cuba national team player.
“Our first goal for the season is to make it to the final in every tournament we play at,” Maique added. “Of course we would have loved to have won both finals we played earlier this season, but those losses taught us lessons. This will be a very challenging season and we’re very motivated to accomplish our goals. We used the first Superliga matches to get to the Club World Championship in good shape and I’m confident we’ll be able to perform well.”
Minas are currently ranked second in the Brazilian Superliga with six wins in seven matches, but recently fell to Suzano Volei.
At the Club World Championship, Minas are in Pool B and will compete for one of the two spots in the semifinals with Iran’s Paykan Club, their opening match opponents, and Italy’s Itas Trentino.