Brazil men’s national team was without one of their most popular players during the first four weeks of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League Preliminary Round but star middle blocker Lucas Saatkamp joined the team in Rimini for Week 5 and the final round.

A Rio 2016 Olympic champion, the 35-year-old veteran appeared in the matches against Italy, Germany and Russia and is now focused on getting into a good rhythm for Saturday’s semifinals.

“I was out for a long time and I arrived here a lot later than my teammates,” he said. “But I feel great now. I’m working hard to get into a good rhythm and I’m confident I will be able to help the team with my best game in the Final Round.”

There was a good reason for Lucas’ absence at the start of the VNL. The middle blocker flew to Italy a little later than his teammates because of the birth of his daughter, Maya, at the beginning of June.

The Olympic champion might now be working hard to regain his best form, but being with his wife, Bia, and their son, Theo, at such a special moment for their family has certainly reinvigorated Lucas for the medal round in Rimini.

“I think that for anyone watching the birth of a daughter is always special, the most important moment of our lives” Lucas explained. “It’s something that gives me new energy to feed from, and in a certain way it gives me more motivation to keep playing longer to make them happy. And also, now more than ever I want to accomplish my goals with the national team to make all this time I spend away from my family worth it.”

Lucas in action against the Germans

Lucas in action against the Germans

A veteran with over a decade of experience with the Brazilian national team, Lucas, who was selected as the best in his position at both the 2018 FIVB World Championship and the 2019 FIVB World Cup, likes Brazil’s chances of winning their first VNL title in just a few days.

Before losing to Russia in their last Preliminary Round match, Brazil had just two defeats in 15 matches. Even with the loss against the reigning VNL champions, they finished top of the standings.

“The team has been playing great,” he remarked. “We have a very deep roster, which allows us to rotate players and keep a very high level regardless of who’s on the court.”