The new number one team in the FIVB World Ranking, Brazil cruised to an emphatic straight-set victory over 17th-ranked Puerto Rico on Thursday. In a Pool E encounter at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, the South Americans mastered a 3-0 (25-11, 25-13, 25-15) shutout of their opponents from the Caribbean. It was their sixth win out of seven matches since the start of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2022.

Brazil climbed to the second place in the current Pool E standings, on a 6-1 win-loss record and 17 points, just below pool leaders Italy, on 6-1 and 19, and above third-placed China, on 5-1 and 15, who are set to play their seventh match later on Thursday, against the Netherlands at 20:00 local time (18:00 GMT). Belgium and Japan, on 5-2 and 15 points each, come next down the table. The Dutch hosts are sixth on 4-2 and 12 and still in contention for the next phase, unlike bottom-placed Puerto Rico (6 points) and Argentina (5 points) on 2-5 each. The top four teams from each of the two second-phase pools will advance to the quarterfinals.

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Brazil outplayed Puerto Rico convincingly on all counts, most impressively in serving with 10 aces against one and in blocking with 11 stuffs against four. Middle blocker Ana Carolina Da Silva (Carol) raised as many as seven kill blocks and fired two aces towards the match high of 16 points. She also registered a 54% success rate in attack. The other middle, Caroline Gattaz was even more efficient in offence with 80%. Outside hitter Priscila Daroit contributed 11 points, including two aces and two blocks, and opposite Tainara Santos added another 10 towards the victory.

Brazil’s setter Macris Carneiro served for the first two rallies of the match and outside hitter and captain Gabriela Guimaraes finished both of them off for the first two break points. Puerto Rico managed to stay competitive for a while, until two successful swings in a row by Tainara, followed by an ace from Pri Daroit, led to an 8-6 Brazilian breakaway. When it was Macris’ turn to serve again, Brazil went on a six-point run, including aces for 13-8 and 16-8. Carol completely owned the net with both her blocks and attacks to help widen the gap. She scored from the serving line to bring in set point at 24-10, converted shortly by Puerto Rico with a long serve for 25-11.

Puerto Rico started the second set with a break point on a two-handed overpass kill by middle Neira Ortiz, but Brazil reacted swiftly with nine points in a row, with great work from their blockers, especially Carol. Gabi chipped in with a direct point from the end line for 7-1. Despite making many substitutions to their on-court line-up in the process, the South Americans were in complete control and cruised on, adding three more aces along the way, by Pri Daroit for 15-4, by Gattaz for 18-6 and by sub-in outside Rosamaria Montibeller for 22-8. Puerto Rico woke up with four in a row, including an ace by outside Pilar Marie Victoria for 22-11, but the opponents were way too far out of reach. Rosamaria landed a pipe for 24-13 and Puerto Rico committed an attacking error for the last point to close the set at 25-13.

With their starters back on the court for the beginning of the third set, Brazil kept the momentum and quickly broke away in the score with a wide lead. Coach Ze Roberto once again started making substitutions. Before being replaced, Carol aced for 5-2 and Macris aced for 17-8. Finally, sub-in opposite Kisy Nascimento brought in match point with an elegant back-row tip for 24-15, again converted by the opponents with an unforced error in offence for 25-15.

“It was teamwork today and we are really happy,” said Carol after the game. “It is not easy to play against Puerto Rico, who defend well. Maybe they weren’t as good today, but I think it all came from our part. We served well, we blocked well, we defended well and everybody, who came in, helped a lot. This is what we want as a team – everybody focused, with their minds on the game to win the points and win the match.”

Brazil’s next game is on Friday, at 20:15 local time (18:15 GMT), against the Netherlands. Earlier that day, at 14:15 (12:15), Puerto Rico will take on Japan.