Sada Cruzeiro's libero Lukinhas celebrates with his teammates

The two Brazilian teams competing at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship had a positive start in the tournament as both Sada Cruzeiro and FUNVIC – Fundação Universitária Vida Cristã won their opening matches at the GInasio Poliesportivo Divino Braga in Betim, Brazil, on Tuesday.

Three-time world champions Sada Cruzeiro were dominant against Asian champions Sirjan Foolad of Iran, securing a straight-set (25-20, 25-16, 25-16) victory in front of their home fans to take an early lead in Pool B.

Cuban outside hitter Miguel Angel Lopez led all scorers in the match with 20 points (15 kills, four blocks, one ace), while teammates Wallace de Souza, a Rio 2016 Olympic champion, and Otavio Pinto added 11 each. Outside hitter Amirhossein Esfandiar was Foolad's most prolific player with nine points (seven kills and two aces).

“It was a great debut,” Lopez reacted. “We prepared really well to be able to keep a strong rhythm during the entire match and we managed to do that because we were really strong mentally. I am aware that my offence and my serving helped a lot tonight, but all of our players did a great job in helping the team with their skills. I’ll try to continue scoring points in important moments and the next match against Trentino will be a really important one for us.”


FUNVIC players celebrate a point during the match

In the opening match of the tournament, FUNVIC staged a brilliant comeback to defeat Argentina’s UPCN San Juan 3-2 (21-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-12) in Pool A after dropping the first two sets of the match.

The reigning Brazilian champions were dominant at the net, outscoring UPCN in blocks 16-6. Opposite Gabriel Gomes, who produced a match-high 22 points (19 kills, three blocks), and American middle blocker Patrick ‘Pat’ Gasman, who delivered 20 (12 kills, seven blocks, one ace), were the team’s individual standouts.

“Entering a tournament that important, it was easy to tell we were a little too anxious and nervous at the beginning,” FUNVIC’s setter and captain Murilo Radke analysed. “Once we calmed down, our game started flowing better and we were fortunate we were able to win. We believe that from now on we’ll face even stronger opponents, so we’ll need to prepare well and try to play at our best.”

Eight-time Argentinean champions UCPN's outside hitter Brian Melgarejo, with 16 points (14 kills, two blocks), and middle blocker Fabian Flores, with 13 (ten kills, three blocks), were the team's top scorers. Opposite Igor Guillen, who produced 12 points (11 kills, one ace), lamented the drop of form that costed them the match.

“Our level of play dropped significantly in the last three sets,” Guillen reflected. “We built a good advantage and had a great opportunity to win the match, but unfortunately we wasted it. Our serving and our defence could have been better and I felt like we weren’t aggressive the entire time. Now we have to try to put our flaws behind us and prepare for another tough match against Lube. It’s not over and we’ll give our best until it is.”

The second day of the tournament will feature the first match for defending champions, Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova, who will play UPCN at 17.00 local time in Pool A. Fellow Italians Trentino Itas, who have won the tournament a record five times, play their first match in Pool B at 20.30 local time against Sirjan Foolad.

Watch all the action in Betim live or on demand. The men's and women's Club World Championships will both be streamed on Volleyball TV.