Croatia (CRO) vs. Brazil (BRA) women - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #4846755

The fans on the stands in Nagoya witnessed as many as 26 kill blocks in a three-set match, while Ana Cristina de Souza put away a total of 22 points in Brazil’s 3-0 (26-24, 25-18, 25-8) sweep of Croatia on the last day of Pool 2 action on Sunday. It was Brazil’s third victory in a row, which raised them to the second place in the current Volleyball Nations League 2023 standings before the remaining games of the day, on a 3-1 win-loss record and 10 points. Croatia, on the other hand, leave Japan winless in four matches.

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Both sides offered a solid blocking performance. In just three sets of play, Croatia put up 12 kill blocks, with Ema Strunjak standing out with four, while Brazil tallied 14 with as many as eight of their players registering blocking points against their names. Ana Cristina had three kill blocks towards an impressive match high of 22 points. She registered a 55% success rate in attack and signed off with two of her team’s seven aces in the match.

It was the Brazilian blocking that finally made the difference in a hard-fought first set, in which Croatia managed to recover from the four-point advantage Croatia had at 16-12 to even take the lead momentarily at 19-18 and eventually push the set to overtime. At their second opportunity to close the set, the South Americans did so on a monster block by setter Macris Carneiro for 26-24. Brazil stepped up their serving and spiking efforts in the second set, while the Croatians continued to show great performance in blocking as the lead swung from three points Brazil’s way at 9-6 to three points Croatia’s way at 14-11. From that moment on, the South Americans went on a 14-4 rampage to take the set at 25-18 on a fast attack through the middle by Ana Carolina Da Silva (Carol). The momentum carried Brazil on towards a 6-0 entrance into the third part and the rest of the set was completely one-sided. When middle blocker Lorena Viezel closed the match with an ace, the Europeans had managed to score only eight points in the set.

Croatia (CRO) vs. Brazil (BRA) women - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #4846756

Carol in attack

“It was so good! I am proud of the team. As always, we are just trying to do our best every day. And, of course, this third set was amazing. We just thought step by step, point by point and we got it. It was really nice,” said Carol after the match. “It’s really nice when the block can help the team. With a good position block and good position defence, we can do a good counterattack, but of course, to make a block point feels good. Now we go home, we practice, we work hard and we will be ready for next week.”

After a week off, Brazil will host a competition week two tournament at home in Brasilia starting off against Korea on June 14. Croatia will also travel to the Brazilian capital, where they will open their campaign with a game against United States on June13.

Croatia (CRO) vs. Brazil (BRA) women - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #4848859

Ana Cristina happy upon the victory

Sunday’s remaining game programme offers two more matches in Nagoya. Germany and Bulgaria will meet at 15:40 local time (06:40 UTC), followed by the all-Asian clash between Japan and China at 19:10 (10:10). The Pool 1 schedule in Antalya features games between Thailand and Korea at 14:00 local (11:00 UTC), between Canada and Serbia at 17:00 (14:00) and between hosts Türkiye and Olympic champions USA at 20:00 (17:00).