Brazil escapes Netherlands in VNL Pasay leg opener

Brazil barely got past the Netherlands as the VNL returned to Pasay. Cesca Rampas
By John Rhey Piamonte

PASAY--World no. 4 Brazil put up an astonishing display of power and composure to start the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Pasay leg with a victory over the Netherlands, in a tight 24-26, 25-23, 31-29, 25-20 win at the Mall of Asia Arena, Tuesday. 

The Olympics-bound Brazil leaned on Darlan Souza as the 21-year-old delivered when it mattered the most, spearheading his team with a 20-point total across his name. 

"After getting our groove, we started to feel really pumped up. We needed to stay focused and keep our heads up after that set loss. I hope that we keep on doing that also in the next following games," Brazil's opposite spiker Souza said.  

Brazil came out strong in the opening set but Netherlands team captain Nimir Abdel-Aziz led the comeback charge of the Deutsch to snatch the set, 24-26.

Bouncing back after their set 1 meltdown, the South Americans then made sure to take care of things in the following set, finishing strong with a quick set from Lucas Saatkamp sealing the deal at 25-23.

It was then a back-and-forth third set with both teams trading haymakers at each other but a superb cross-court hit from Darlan followed by another quick play by Lucas bagged the crucial third set for Brazil.

Finishing things off, Brazil capitalized on an early 14-10 advantage in the fourth and never looked back, capping the game with a 25-20 set win. 

With the games at its final leg, Brazil improved to a 6-3 record, stabilizing their place in the standings. 

They will face the mighty USA team next on Thursday, then end their classification round campaign with games between Canada on Friday and France on Sunday. 

"Rest for tonight and then, back to practice tomorrow. Our focus is to keep on working. That's the game plan," Brazil's middle blocker Flavio Gualberto uttered.

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