Brazil (BRA) vs. Cuba (CUB) men - Pool A #7273415

Darlan was Brazil's top scorer against Cuba with 20 points

Hosts Brazil secured a critical victory in a big match at the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Rio de Janeiro on Friday and remain alive in the race for the two spots in play at the Paris 2024 Games.

The South Americans started behind, but found the strength to come back and overcome Cuba 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-20) with the support of thousands of their home fans at the Maracanãzinho stadium.

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Once again, 21-year-old opposite Darlan de Souza played a key role for Brazil, leading the team’s offense with 20 points (16 kills, three aces, one block) and scoring in big moments of the match.

Against Cuba, however, the South Americans had a well-diversified offense, with outside hitter Ricardo Lucarelli adding 14 points and middle blocker Lucas Saatkamp and outside hitter Henrique Honorato contributing 12 points each.

“We had won three matches before this one, but we didn’t feel like we had a great performance in any of them,” Lucarelli reacted. “Today it was different, we played really well. Everybody contributed, we managed to limit our errors and were very happy on the court. Our offense was very strong and everyone performed really well. Now we have to keep this for the two matches we have left in order to reach our goal here this week.”

Brazil (BRA) vs. Cuba (CUB) men - Pool A #7273401

Lucas tries to stop Cuban outside hitter Marlon Yant

With their fourth win in five matches, the Brazilians get to ten points and, at least momentarily, enter the qualification zone in Pool A. The South Americans will play Iran on Saturday and Italy on Sunday and will be guaranteed a spot in Paris 2024 if they win both matches.

“Coming back after losing the first set in the way we did is never easy,” team captain and setter Bruno Rezende reflected. “But we were patient and started the second set determined to make fewer errors. We did a very good job, played aggressively and our blocking was very effective. Now we need to rest and prepare for the next two matches.”

On the Cuban side, outside hitter Marlon Yant led the way with 19 points (16 kills, two aces, one block), followed by opposite Jesus Herrera, with 13. With three wins in five matches, the Cubans will need to beat Italy on Saturday and Iran on Sunday and count on favorable results in other encounters involving Brazil, Germany and Italy to advance.

Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament - Match Schedule and Results

In the second match of the day, Italy recovered from their defeat to Germany with a sound 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) win over Iran. Outside hitter Tommaso Rinaldi was the main Italian scorer with 15 points (nine kills, five blocks, one ace), while opposite Saber Kazemi led the Iranian offense with 14 (all in kills).

Later, Ukraine claimed their second win in Rio with a 3-1 (25-22, 27-29, 26-24, 25-21) triumph against Qatar. Ukrainian outside hitter Tymofii Poluian was the main scorer among the Europeans with 20 points (15 kills, five blocks), but Qatari's Raimi Wadidie got a match-high 26 points, with 22 kills, two blocks and two aces.

The daily schedule at the Maracanãzinho was completed with the fifth victory of Germany, the only undefeated team in the event. In great form, they topped Czechia 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-17) with 14 points from captain and opposite György Grozer.

Saturday's schedule in Rio will have Brazil and Iran battling at 10:00 local time (17:00 UTC), Italy and Cuba dueling at 13:30 local time (20:30 UTC), Ukraine and Czechia playing each other at 17:00 local time (00:00 UTC, Sunday) and Germany and Qatar measuring strength 20:30 local time (03:30 UTC, Sunday).

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FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers
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