Amazing USA came back from a set down to beat Brazil 3-1 (26-28, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21) and claim their third title in as many editions of the competition, as the 2021 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League wrapped up Friday night in Italy's Adriatic resort of Rimini with a final worthy of the class of the two rivals.
USA claim VNL three-peat after battling back against Brazil in 2021 final
Bartsch-Hackley leads USA as they come back from a set down in thrilling final
Published 10:15, 19 Jul 2021
Brazil blew a four-point lead at 19-15 in the first set as USA closed in to draw level at 21-21, but the South Americans were first to reach set point. USA cancelled that with a sideout by Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and took the lead after an attack on the net by Tandara Caixeta.
There was drama at the end, when Brazil coach Ze Roberto challenged the last point originally awarded to USA after a hit on the net by Fe Garay, but deemed on the replay to have involved a net touch by Foluke Akinradewo.
USA came from two points behind at the second technical timeout to overtake Brazil and reach set point with two to spare in the second set. A huge block by Carol Gattaz on Bartsch-Hackley cancelled the first, but then Haleigh Washington made the kill on USA's first shot at a sideout.
It was a tight third set, but Brazil were ahead by a point at 22-21 before a kill by Bartsch-Hackley and a block by Jordyn Poulter on Gabi Guimaraes brought USA ahead and Washington attacked to reach set point. Brazil pulled one back on the sideout but Poulter again blocked Gabi for the last point.
Natalia, who had come on off the bench to replace Fe Garay in the third set, started in the fourth and Brazil made their intentions known that they weren't going down without a fight and quickly built a four-point lead.
Annie Drews came to the rescue again and scored ten points in the fourth set alone as Brazil's lead evaporated and USA shot ahead to reach match point with four to spare before Bartsch-Hackley pushed the ball off the hand of Ana Cristina and out of bounds to seal the game.
She was top scorer of the game on 22 points and there was nothing Brazil's best scorer, Gabi on 18, could do.