Four teams are still in the race to win the 2021 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League including defending champions the United States, final four regulars Brazil, Turkey, and newcomers Japan.

VNL 2019 runners-up Brazil will fight to overcome a determined Japanese side in the first semifinal match at 16.00 local time on Thursday and will play for a VNL medal upgrade.

USA are two victories away from completing a three-peat in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League, but will have to face their 2018 rivals Turkey in the 2021 edition’s second semifinal at 19.30.

Brazil aiming high, Japan making a strong impression

Brazil made it to their third consecutive final four appearance with a 13-2 record, while Japan joined the final four bloc for the first time with a 12-3 card.

To be able to redeem their five-set loss in the 2019 final, Brazil first have to progress from their semifinal match against Japan.

The South Americans will try to replicate their performance against the Asian powerhouse in the preliminary round, when they posted a straight-set victory.

The Brazilians’ have a 3-0 record against the Japanese at the VNL, including their 3-0 finish in the current edition, which is also their best result, following their matchups in the last two editions which ended in four sets.

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The Japanese have shown impressive form and are looking to improve their record in the tournament. They have already won a record of 12 matches within a major level tournament for the first time.

The encounter between Brazil and Japan will be a test for Macris Carneiro and Aki Momii’s playmaking prowess.

Both squads have formidable attack trios. The Brazilian trinity of Tandara Caixeta (224), Gabi Guimaraes (179) and Fe Garay (175) collected 578 points in the Preliminary Round, but the Japanese troika of Sarina Koga (225), Mayu Ishikawa (202) and Ai Kurogo (198) have the edge with 625 points.

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But there are plenty of other areas these teams can focus on in their matchup, with Brazil having an advantage in net defence, and Japan in their excellent floor defence.