Brazil (BRA) vs. Czechia (CZE) men - Pool A #7186618

Darlan drove Brazil's reaction against Czechia on Sunday

Hosting Pool A of the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil have three Olympic champions and several players with relevant international experience in their squad, but it’s been a relatively new face who’s been leading the team as they pursue a spot at next year’s Paris Games.

With 28 points scored across the team’s first two matches in the event, opposite Darlan Souza, who made his national team debut in 2022, is establishing himself as a key player in the Brazilian journey to book a spot to the next Olympics.

  • Watch all matches of the Men's Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament on VBTV

Darlan, who was with Brazil in the last two editions of the Volleyball Nations League and also during last year’s FIVB Volleyball World Championship, was one of the last players to confirm his spot in the Brazilian roster for the Olympic Qualifier, after fellow opposite Felipe Roque withdrew due to personal reasons.

After delivering five points off the bench in the team’s opening match against Qatar on Saturday, Darlan was subbed in again to help Brazil pull off a dramatic five-set win over Czechia on Sunday, producing a match-high 23 points and getting a standing ovation from the thousands of Brazilian fans that were at the Maracanãzinho.

“That means a lot to me,” the Rio de Janeiro-native said after the match. “I didn’t expect to it happen, at least not so quickly. But I had the opportunity to get on the court, played well and made the most of it. It’s an incredible feeling and I can’t even explain what I felt.”

Besides contributing to the Brazilian success with his powerful spikes and serves, Darlan has also been playing a major role in igniting the crowd with his energetic play. Against Czechia, the 21-year-old opposite led the team’s unlikely reaction in the tie-breaker after being down 13-9 and brought the fans into the game with his effusive celebrations.

“My job is to help the national team in any way I can,” he commented. “Sometimes I felt that our energy on the court was low, so I tried to raise it and interact with the fans. It doesn’t matter if we’re ten or 20 points behind, I’ll always be yelling and showing the fans that we’re trying hard. It brings them to our side and that can make a big difference.”

Brazil (BRA) vs. Czechia (CZE) men - Pool A #7186605

Darlan interacts with the fans at the Maracanãzinho

Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament - Match Schedule and Results

After two strong performances off the bench, it’s possible that Darlan gets to start Brazil’s next match in the tournament, against Germany, on Tuesday, at 20:30 local time (03:30 UTC, Thursday). For that to happen, however, his older brother Alan, the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 FIVB World Cup, will need to leave the team as he also plays as an opposite.

“Playing with my brother at the national team has been a dream,” Darlan reacted. “I honestly didn’t expect it was going to happen. It’s king od hard because we play the same position and won’t likely get to be on the court at the same time, but regardless of who’s on the court, we’re always helping each other.”