Minas' players celebrate their victory in the opening match of the Superliga Finals (Photo: Nadine Oliver/Inovafoto/CBV)

An inspired performance by Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Macris Carneiro guided Itambe Minas to victory in the first leg of the Finals of the Women’s Brazilian Superliga in the country’s capital Brasilia on Friday.

Minas started the best-of-three series that will determine the champions of the 2021-2022 edition of the country’s national league with a solid 3-1 (25-18, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22) win over rivals Dentil Praia Clube in front of more than 8,000 fans and are one win away from securing their fifth national title and the third in consecutively.

It was the first time Minas defeated their in-state rivals in the 2021-2022 club season after five straight losses. Praia had prevailed in the finals of the Mineiro Championship, the Brazilian Supercup and the South American Championship and in both meetings during the Superliga regular season.


Macris' creativity was a valuable asset for Minas against Praia (Photo: Nadine Oliver/Inovafoto/CBV)

The 33-year-old Macris was impressively efficient at the net, registering a match-high four block points, but she truly made the difference with her ball distribution, which allowed four of her teammates to reach double digits in scoring and helped compensate for the loss of American opposite Danielle Cuttino, who is sitting out of the final series due to an injury.

Turkish Olympian outside hitter Neriman Ozsoy led all scorers with 19 points (all in kills) and received the match’s MVP award.

“We’re so happy that we started the series with a win,” the 33-year-old Ozsoy commented. “Praia are a great team and we have a lot of respect for them. I tried to take more responsibility in offence after we lost Cuttino and my teammates trusted me and helped me do my best. Now we want to win the second match and take the title. But we know Praia will play better and we need to be ready to do the same.”

Other prolific Minas players included young opposite Kisy Cesario, with 15 points (ten kills, three blocks, two aces), outside hitter Priscila Daroit, with 13 (12 kills, one block), two-time Olympic champion middle blocker Thaisa Menezes, with 11 (seven kills, two blocks, two aces), and Brazil national team libero Leia Silva, who was solid with her passing and defence.

On Praia’s side, Dominican Olympian opposite Brayelin Martinez was the top scorer with 16 points (13 kills, two blocks, one ace), followed by outside hitters Anne Buijs, with 13 (11 kills, two blocks), and Tainara Santos, who came off the bench to add 12 (ten kills, two blocks).


Dutch Olympian Buijs hits around the Minas block (Photo: Nadine Oliver/Inovafoto/CBV)

The team from Uberlandia will need to pull out a win in the second match next Friday to force a third encounter on May 3 and maintain their hopes of claiming their second Superliga title.

“We had several small problems that ended up costing us the match, but the most important one I think was not causing a lot of impact with our serves,” said Tokyo silver medallist middle blocker Ana Carolina 'Carol' da Silva. “We’ll need to do a good job in fixing these issues over the week to win the second match and take the decision to the third.”

Carol scored four block points during the match and is now at 124 this season, an all-time record for a single edition of the Superliga.