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Defending champion Brazil rallies past Serbia for second straight win
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20:10, August 12, 2008

Defending Olympic champions Brazil overcame a sluggish start to beat former Olympic gold medal winners Serbia 3-1 here on Tuesday for their second straight win at the Beijing Games men's volleyball preliminaries.

Murilo Endres and Dante Amaral each notched 18 points to lead the world No. 1 to the 25-27, 25-20, 25-17 and 25-21 victory while dropping the Europeans to an 0-2 win-loss record in pool B.

"We did well in blocking, defense and reception, especially in reception, I hope we can play better in the next game against Poland," said Brazil head coach Bernardo Rezende.

Neither team played with full strength as Serbia rested most of its regular starters and Brazil put its top scorer Gilberto Godoy Filho on the bench.

"We used the younger players to start because we started with them when we won against Brazil in the World League," said Serbian spiker Andrija Geric. "It worked in the first set but then in the second and third sets it went downhill."

The Brazilians, who had recorded an easy 3-0 win over Egypt on Sunday, looked right on track to the triumph in the opening set as a kill and a block of Endres and an Serbian error pushed them up to 22-19.

However, the Sydney Olympic champions steadily pulled back and beat off two set points for an advantage at 25-24.

Amaral came up to smash a ball home and make it 25-all, but Nikola Kovacevic answered with a kill to give Serbia a second set point before Gustavo Endres drove a ball long to surrender the opener.

"We did a good job at the beginning of the first set, but toward the end of the set we did not play as aggressively as in the beginning," Rezende said.

Brazil, who had swept all titles in the three major international volleyball tournaments, namely Olymics, World Championships and World Cup, in the past six years, came back with strong determination in the second set, jumping to a 5-0 lead on back of terrific services of Andre Heller and soon improved to 15-5. The resistant Serbians managed to pull within 23-19, but that's the closest they could go.

Going down tamely in the third set, Serbia struggled to stay within 22-20 in the fourth, but Amaral hit the ball home twice to make it 24-20 and Brazil converted on its second match point as Milos Nikic served the ball into the net.

"We played well in the first and second sets, but we had too much pressure in the fourth set," said Serbia head coach Igor Kolakovic.

Ivan Miljkovic scored 17 points for Serbia, who was outblocked 12-7 and managed only one ace, compared with six for Brazil.

"I'm very sad we lost. However, I was happy in the second set when we came back well," said Miljkovic. "This will help us to play well against other teams such as Germany and Poland, and to reach the quarterfinals."


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