Brazil book last FIVB Nations League semi-final spot after thrilling win over Iran
Brazil qualified for the semi-finals of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Friday when they defeated Iran in a thrilling final Pool B encounter in Chicago.
The Brazilian’s 3-2 in sets victory (25-20, 25-23, 24-26, 20-25, 15-10) means they join hosts USA, Russia and Poland in the penultimate stage of the competition after three days of action at the Credit Union 1 Arena.
Brazil came into Friday’s first match on the back of a five set defeat to Poland on Wednesday, while Iran were defeated by the same team on Thursday. It meant both knew the stakes were high for their clash with the winners gaining Pool B’s second spot into Saturday’s semi-finals.
In this do-or-die clash, it was Brazil who rapidly found their feet to take the first two sets but Iran fought back in the third set by taking a four-point lead at 5-1 and then holding on to their advantage until Brazil levelled scores at 22-22. It was not enough to reverse the Iranian team’s momentum however as they claimed the set 26-24.
Coach Igor Kolakovic’s men continued to pile on the pressure in the fourth set and after both teams exchanged points, Iran took it 25-20 to set-up a tiebreaker. However the South Americans delivered the goods when it mattered most and re-asserted their control in the decider, moving to an 11-9 lead and eventually taking the set 15-10 and with it the match and that precious semi-final spot.
In the second match of the day hosts USA defeated 2018 competition winners Russia to claim leadership of Pool A ahead of the semi-finals on Saturday. The two sides had already qualified for the semi-finals on Thursday with one win each after France failed to win either of their Pool A matches. In what was effectively a dead rubber, coach John Speraw’s USA team claimed a convincing 3-0 victory against Russia (25-21, 25-17, 25-20), with Russian coach Tuomas Sammelvuo rotating his players ahead of the semi-finals.
On Thursday in Chicago, Poland and Russia won their respective FIVB Volleyball Nations League Finals Round pool matches against Iran and France. In the process it meant USA also reached the semi-finals before even playing their final Pool A match as France were eliminated thanks to their consecutive losses.
Iran seemed to be on a mission but it was Poland who seemed inspired and deservedly came away with the 3-1 victory (21-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-22) to gain entry into the semi-finals. It meant the young Polish team, which had stunned Brazil in a five-set win to open Pool B, earned a day off from competition on Friday to celebrate topping the Pool.
Russia entered their match with France on Thursday knowing a win would secure a semi-final round berth, and their defence came through big with a 20-7 block advantage resulting in a 3-0 victory (25-16, 25-23, 25-17). In a re-match of last year’s final against the same opposition, the title-holders cruised to victory in one hour and fifteen minutes.
Today’s semi-final line-up sees Poland take on Russia at 17.00 local time in Chicago, before what promises to be an equally fascinating contest between USA and Brazil at 20.00 local time.