SRB vs BRA23

Lucarelli in action

Brazil found their way back to victory in the men’s Volleyball Nations League 2022 led by Ricardo Lucarelli. On Thursday, the 30-year-old outside hitter was his team’s top scorer on the way to a 3-0 (25-18, 26-24, 25-17) shutout of Serbia in Sofia. Brazil improved their win-loss record to 3-3 and rose to the seventh place in the current standings, after they had lost their previous three VNL games. Serbia dropped to 11th on 2-4.

Lucarelli shared the match top scorer honours with Serbian opposite Nikola Meljanac as they put away 14 points apiece. The Brazilian star contributed two aces and two blocks towards the victory, while spiking at a 53% success rate. His teammate, opposite Alan Souza added another 13 points to stay in the lead of the competition’s best scorers chart on a total of 110.

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

Brazil made an early push to take the lead in the first set, with star setter Bruno Rezende acing to extend it to 10-5. Middle blocker Flavio Gualberto crowned a five-point Brazilian run with a superb first-tempo attack to open a 10-point gap at 20-10, but Serbia reacted with four in a row to narrow it down again to six. Still Brazil managed to keep pace through the end of the set. An awesome back-row hit by Adriano Cavalcante delivered the set point at 24-18 and Lucarelli ended it with a powerful ace for 25-18, his sixth point in the set.

SRB vs BRA15

Brazilian captain Bruno Rezende

The second set offered an even hard-fought battle. Serbia recovered from an early three-point lag. After 13-11 Brazil’s way, they scored four in a row, crowned by a Nemanja Masulovic ace for a 15-13 lead. In the money time, the Serbian middle squeezed the ball between the net and the Brazilian blockers for a 24-23 set point, but Lucarelli reacted with an off-the-block hit to draw level. Two consecutive spiking errors by Meljanac handed the set to Brazil at 26-24.

Early into the third set, Brazil thought they had won their third consecutive point after a monster block by Yoandy Leal, but while they were celebrating, Serbia somehow dug it out to win the rally – 2-1. Alan put away two aces within a five-point Brazilian run that gave them an 8-2 lead. Serbia tried fighting back and two excellent first-tempo attacks in a row by middle Petar Krsmanovic brought them back to within two at 11-9. Brazil, however, did not slow down. A three-point series gave them a 19-13 lead and they just cruised on to close the set at 25-17 and the match at 3-0.

“It’s always good and amazing to win... and we need it!” Lucarelli said after the match. “We did not arrive from Brazil in a very good mood and when we lost the first game here to Poland our mood went further down. So today’s win was good for getting our confidence back. I think that game by game I am coming back into shape after not playing for a long time. I feel good on the court and I am happy to help.”

Earlier on Thursday in Sofia, world champions Poland hammered out a 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-16) shutout of Canada with a 13-point match high from Lukasz Kaczmarek, catching up with France at the top of the current standings on a 5-1 win-loss record and 15 points each, only short on set ratio.

Over in Quezon City, the Olympic champions opened the competition day with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-23, 25-13) straight-setter against the Netherlands, leaving the opponents in sixth place on 3-3 and a better set ratio than seventh-placed Brazil and eighth-placed Slovenia. The Slovenians managed a 3-1 (25-20, 27-29, 25-18, 25-17) victory over Olympic bronze medallists Argentina with captain Tine Urnaut leading the scorers with 19 points.

In the last game of the day, USA take on Iran in Sofia at 20:00 local time (17:00 GMT).