Volleyball Nations League 2022 Brasilia Men - USAvsBRA-27

USA grabbed their fourth win of the week at the Volleyball Nations League pool in Brasilia, but it was the biggest one of all, against hosts and defending champions Brazil. Carried by middle blocker Tyler Mitchem’s solid performance in key moments of sets three and four, the Americans celebrated with a 3-1 (21-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-20) victory on Saturday to stay as one of only two undefeated teams in the VNL along with France, who are on 3-0. It was Brazil’s first loss of the tournament. They have now dropped to 2-1 in fifth place.

“This was huge! You could see that there were some nerves and a little bit of tiredness in the first set, but I am just proud of the way we battled,” said experienced American outside Aaron Russell, who finished with 10 points to his name. “It’s all about making your best touch on every ball and I think even the guys who came in were able to do that.”

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

A couple of aces, one by opposite Alan Souza for 11-10 and another one by outside Rodrigo Leal (Rodriguinho) for 13-11, gave Brazil a momentary lead in the first set. USA caught up, but not for long. Inspired by the 11 thousand cheering fans on the stands, the home side pushed forward again. A spectacular long rally was finally finished off by sub-in opposite Willian Franco to bring a 24-20 set point. Two rallies later, Franco himself converted it to a 25-21 set win with another off-the-block hit.

Volleyball Nations League 2022 Brasilia Men - USAvsBRA-21

Alan spikes through the US block

After an early 5-2 USA lead in the second set, Brazil fought back to level it at 9-9 and prompt a spectacular race for every point through the rest of the set. The South Americans showed several amazing defensive actions within a rally that still ended USA’s way for 19-18. A 23-21 American lead was eventually wiped away by Rodriguinho’s monster block for 23-23 and the set went into overtime before a blistering ace by opposite Jake Hanes closed it off at 27-25.

Mitchem scored his first point of the match in that second set, but he was just picking up speed for the sets to come. A single-man monster block by the 2.08m-tall middle for 18-16 served as the momentum changer in a hard-fought third set. He impressed with two aces in a row to widen the gap to 22-17. His total tally in the set reached seven points. Eventually Russell’s pipe attack put an end to it at 25-20.

Tyler Mitchem’s top plays against Brazil

A successful hit by Mitchem and a solid block by setter Joshua Tuaniga gave USA two consecutive break points to run off with a 9-6 lead in set four. The middle blocker kept harassing the opponents with his first-tempo attacks to help his team stay ahead on the scoreboard and celebrate victoriously after closing the match at 25-20.

Alan topped the scorers chart of the match on a total of 23 points for Brazil, including an ace and two blocks. Rodriguinho finished with 13, including two aces. On the winners’ side Hanes led the scorers with 20 points, followed by Tyler Mitchem with 13 and Jendryk Jeffrey with 12.

Next, USA will travel to Sofia for week two and to Osaka for week three of the Preliminary Round. So will Brazil, but they still have one more game to play at home, against China on Sunday.

Earlier on Saturday, in the other pool taking place in Ottawa, Germany came out on the winning end of a nail-biting five-setter against Serbia, in which four of the five sets were resolved in the overtime. With 18 points each from captain Christian Fromm and Linus Weber, the Germans claimed a 3-2 (27-25, 25-27, 18-25, 28-26, 18-16) victory, while Dusan Pertkovic and Pavle Peric were Serbia’s best scorers on 24 and 22 points, respectively. On a win-loss record of 3-1, Germany stand third in the table, while the Serbs dropped to 2-2 in sixth.