Gabi's 30-point performance helped Brazil to beat Italy in Rotterdam

Volleyball Nations League finalists Brazil and Italy featured in one of the most exciting matches of the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on Tuesday, when the South Americans topped the European champions in their first Phase 2 match in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Playing at the Ahoy Arena, the Brazilians prevailed in a five-set (25-20, 22-25, 22-25, 25-21, 17-15) battle that brought Italy's five-match unbeaten run in the tournament to an end in Pool E.

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The encounter featured a fantastic battle between two of the best players in the world – Brazilian outside hitter Gabriela ‘Gabi’ Guimaraes, who led her team to victory with 30 points (all in kills), and Italian opposite Paola Egonu, who produced a match-high 37 points with 33 kills, three blocks and one ace.

“I always prepare to do my very best, but without my teammates, I can do nothing,” Gabi reflected. “They help me be consistent, they keep pushing and encouraging me no matter what, and of course, with such great support, it’s much easier for me to go out there and play at my best. I may have scored the most points, but we wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for the work of each of us.”


The duel between Egonu and Gabi was one of the highlights of the match

The higher number of errors made by the Italians (32 to 25) was the main difference between the two teams and the Brazilians came out on top even if the Europeans had a minor edge in kills (62 to 61), blocks (13 to 12) and aces (three to one).

Besides Gabi, other top performers on the Brazilian side were middle blocker Ana Carolina ‘Carol’ da Silva, who left the court with 14 points (seven kills, seven blocks), and opposite Tainara Santos, who chipped in 13 (ten kills, two blocks, one ace).

“Our teamwork was unbelievable today,” Gabi added. “We played as a team on every point and never gave up, even when we were behind. The loss to Japan, when we didn’t play the way we’re used to, made us talk about it and get back to having this attitude on the court. The match against China and today’s show that if we play like this, we are really difficult to beat. I hope we keep growing with this energy.”

Italy’s second-best scorer was middle blocker Anna Danesi, who tallied 13 points (seven kills, five blocks, one ace), while outside hitter Elena Pietrini produced another 11 (ten kills, one block).

Despite dropping their first match in the tournament, reigning VNL champions Italy remain at the top of Pool E with 16 points (five wins, one loss). Japan, with 15 points (five wins, one loss), and Brazil, with 14 (five wins, one loss), complete the top three.

The third and last Pool E match to be played on Tuesday in Rotterdam will reunite hosts the Netherlands and Argentina and is set to start at 20.15 local time (18.15 GMT).

The Italians will try to return to winning ways at the World Championship on Wednesday, when they face Japan at 14.15 local time (12.15 GMT). Brazil will have a day off before playing against Puerto Rico on Thursday, at 16.00 local time (14.00 GMT).