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Russia edges past Brazil in men's volleyball preliminaries
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16:51, August 14, 2008

Russia rallied strongly back from one set down to overpower World's No. 1 Brazil 3-1 in a pulsating men's volleyball preliminary match at the Beijing Olympic Games on Thursday.

It's doomed to be a head-to-head when the world's top two men's teams showed up at the Capital Gymnasium court. Russia, who defeated Brazil 3-1 in the bronze-medal match at the World League in July, repeated the glory after wrapping up the 125-minute tussle 22-25, 26-24, 31-29 and 25-19 with effective blocking and powerful serving.

Russia's 2.03-meter spiker Maxim Mikhaylov scored 19 points, and outside hitter Andre Nascimento contributed 26 points for their teams apiece.

"The importance of the victory is that we are in advantage to get survived from this real tough group, but that's all. Now we need to focus on the next match," said Russia head coach Vladimir Alekno.

Brazil head coach Bernardo Rezende praised the rival's defense and service and satisfaction with his players.

"We have done a good job at defense too, but we also made a lot of mistakes," said Rezende. "We have made progress since the World League, but it is not enough to realize our goal of a medal. We have to really work harder."

Brazil's core player Gilberto Godoy Filho, or Giba, missed the first three sets due to shoulder injuries, and he is not sure if he could play next match against Poland.

"It's getting much better. I'm doing the therapy that I have to do," said Giba. "I have to be patient. Of course I want to play, but I don't want to cause any trouble for Brazil to enter the quarterfinals because it's obviously I'm not good as other players."

The two teams, both unbeatable after two preliminary matches, started strongly since the first minute, but a string of serve errors cost Russia dearly. Brazil broke a 15-15 draw and took a 19-15 lead with a 4-0 run.

Brail kept its advance thanks to their rivals' serve fault again. With a kill block and spike Nascimento, Brazil took the opener 25-22.

Russia maintained their poise and intensified defense at the second set. Started within 11-6, they managed to reach 20-18 when the set became a tit-for-tat battlefield till 24-all.

The towering Russian spikers Alexander Kosarev and Alexey Kuleshov, both above 2 meters, showed their advantage at net. The two clinched the set victory for Russia with a spike and a duo-block 26-24.

The third set was almost a repeat of the second, only the fight turned more fierce to go further. Brazil squandered an early lead 18-13, when Russia strived to catch up at 22-all with a brilliant 9-4 run. The two sides traded lead for 15 times before Russia took the match point 30-29. Mikhaylov's kill block earned Russia a hard set win 31-29.

Giba was sent to court when Brazil go down 16-19 in the fourth set, but he failed to pull back the team's declining tendency. Murilo Endres and Anderson Rodrigues helped Brazil to pull back two points at 21-19, but that's the furthest they could go.

As Rodrigues' counterattack spike went out of the court, Russia won the set 25-19.

Earlier in the day, Athens silver winner Italy beat Venezuela in straight sets and Germany harvested their first victory after upset Egypt 3-0.


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