The star opposite helped his team secure a dramatic five-set victory in Ljubljana

Olympic champion Wallace de Souza's return to the Brazilian national team saw the South Americans come back from behind to defeat Cuba in a nail-biting five-setter that opened the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Friday.

With Wallace chipping in a match-high 22 points, three-time world champions Brazil steadied their nerves to claim the win 3-2 (31-33, 21-25, 25-16, 25-17, 18-16) and start their Pool B campaign with a victory.

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Playing at a high level throughout the match, the 35-year-old Wallace had announced his international retirement after last year’s Tokyo Olympics. Because of injuries to several national team opposites, he was called back by head coach Renan dal Zotto for the World Championship and proved his value in the first match following his return with 19 kills, two blocks and one ace against the Cubans.


Leal scored 20 points for Brazil, including the game-winning one

Outside hitter Yoandy Leal, who was born in Cuba and represented the Caribbean nation at the 2010 World Championship, was also a key player for Brazil, scoring 20 points (15 kills, three blocks, two aces), including the game-winner. Middle blockers Lucas Saatkamp and Flavio Gualberto added ten points each.

Backup setter Fernando ‘Cachopa’ Kreling was another important part of the Brazilian victory as the 26-year player, who’s making his first appearance at a World Championship, came off the bench to replace team captain Bruno Rezende at the start of the third set and managed to right the ship for the South Americans.

“It’s not easy to play against a team like Cuba in a World Championship opening match,” Cachopa commented after the match. “They’re a young team, but a very strong one. We need to give everything we have at every point, and that’s what we did today. Sometimes when things aren’t going your way, you just have to change the way you play a little bit and I was ready to get in and help the team. We’ll now prepare for Japan and study their game a lot.”

On the Cuban side, opposite Jaime Herrera led the way with 18 points (14 kills, two blocks, two aces), followed by outside hitter Miguel Angel Lopez, the Most Valuable Player of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship, who tallied 13 (ten kills, two aces, one block). Star middle blocker Robertlandy Simon produced ten points with eight kills and two blocks.

Both teams will play the second of their three Pool B matches in Ljubljana on Sunday, August 28, when Cuba face Qatar at 11.00 local time (9.00 GMT) and Brazil meet Japan at 14.00 local time (12.00 GMT).