Captain Gabi Guimaraes scored 20 points against the Italians

After 12 years, Brazil will have another opportunity to fight for their first world title as the South Americans tumbled reigning Volleyball Nations League champions Italy and made it to the final of the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on Thursday.

Playing in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, the South Americans defeated the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Ranking leaders for the second time in the tournament, securing a 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19) semifinal triumph that set the floor for a gold medal match encounter with defending champions Serbia.

The gold medal match of the 19th edition of the World Championship will take place in Apeldoorn, on Saturday, at 20.00 local time (18.00 GMT). Four hours earlier, Italians and Americans will play for bronze.

· Watch all FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

Set to make their fourth World Championship gold medal match appearance, the Brazilians took silver in 1994, 2006 and 2010 and also secured bronze in 2014. In 2018, they finished seventh.

Blocking was a big part of the Brazilian success against the Italians. The team coached by Jose ‘Ze Roberto’ Guimaraes ended the match with 21 stops against just seven from their opponents. The Italians, who were better in kills (67 to 56) and aces (four to zero), also made more errors, generating 21 points for the Brazilians, who made just 13.

“I’m so proud of my team, they are the best,” Ana Carolina 'Carol' da Silva reacted. “We came to the World Championship with the goal of playing in the final and we took it one step at a time. Italy are one of the best teams in the world and it was a big challenge to face them now, but we knew we could do it. I’m so happy and so proud of my team. Now we have 12 hours to celebrate and we’ll start preparing for Serbia. We’ll play with our hearts and our minds. We want so much to win and it would be very special if we did it.”


Brazil's blocking was the team's main strength in their semifinal victory against Italy

The Brazilians also benefited from their excellent teamwork as, while Italian star opposite Paola Egonu led all scorers with 30 points (28 kills, two blocks), setter Macris Carneiro had all of her five starting hitters end the match with ten points or more.

Team captain and outside hitter Gabriela ‘Gabi’ Guimaraes led the team with 20 points (17 kills, three blocks), but Carol was arguably Brazil’s top player on the court with 17 points (seven kills and impressive ten blocks). Opposite Lorenne Teixeira scored 14 points (12 kills, two blocks), while middle blocker Carol Gattaz and outside hitter Rosamaria Montibeller chipped in 11 each.

“This is a dream victory for us as we wanted so much to be in the final,” Rosamaria commented. “I think our blocking and defence worked really well tonight and that’s one of our main strengths, but we can still do better. We’re really excited to be in the final. We stuck to our gameplan and even when Italy created problems for us, we were still grounded and focused enough to maintain our organization on the court. Serbia will be a very tough opponent, but we’ll fight until the end as we did today.”


Brazil's five starting hitters reached double digits in scoring

On the Italian side, the two most productive players besides Egonu were captain Miryam Sylla, who scored 17 points (all in kills), and middle blocker Anna Danesi, who added another ten (six kills, three blocks, one ace).

Brazil got the first break in the opening set at 9-7 with a backcourt spike from Gabi. Italy scored two in a row to tie it and then built a three-point lead at 14-11 with an ace from Caterina Bosetti. The Tokyo Olympic silver medallists fought back and tied the set at 15 points after an offensive error from Egonu, but the star opposite recovered quickly and scored 19-17 with a tip. Opposite Kisy Nascimento came off the bench to score consecutive points and place Brazil ahead at 21-20. In the end, the South Americans stopped Egonu twice, first with a block from Carol and then with an error, to take the set 25-23.

The Brazilians started the second set stronger and quickly got a 5-3 lead with back-to-back transition plays converted by Rosamaria. With two points from Egonu and another from Elena Pietrini, who had come off the bench during the set, the Italians took the lead at 10-9. The European advantage didn’t last long, though, as Brazil fought right back and scored three points in a row to move ahead at 12-10. A long serving run from Marina Lubian generated good momentum for the Italians, who regained the lead at 16-15 with Egonu. The difference increased at the end of the set and Sylla converted a transition play to secure a 25-22 win for the Europeans.

Brazil were again the first team to get ahead in the third set, scoring three of the first four points, but an ace from Lubian tied the score 4-4. With three points in a row, the South Americans leaped in front at 7-4. The Italians slowly reduced the difference and eventually got to even the score at 21 points with Egonu tooling the block. With a block from Danesi, the Europeans took the lead for the first time in the set at 23-22, but the Brazilians made big plays and took the set 26-24 after a block from Carol Gattaz and a kill from Lorenne.

With three consecutive blocks from Carol, Brazil quickly created a 4-0 lead at the start of the fourth set. The South American advantage quickly improved to 14-7 when Gabi converted a transition play. Despite a late Italian push, the Brazilians were able to remain ahead until the end and took the set 25-19 and the match with another block from Carol.