FM WU18 BRAvsSVK (32)

Brazil responded in strong fashion to a five-set setback against Russia on Wednesday by dominating Slovakia to a four-set victory in the fourth match day of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Durango, Mexico, on Thursday.

The other Pool D match of the day saw Russia end their pool campaign with another victory, their fourth, this time a 3-0 triumph against Argentina at the Auditorio del Pueblo.

Guaranteed at the top of the pool, the Russians will be off on Friday, when pool play concludes. With two victories and also qualified for the Round of 16, Brazil face winless Bulgaria, which will need to win to have a chance of advancing. The winner of the match between Argentineans and Slovakians, which have both one triumph so far, will also secure a spot in the elimination round.

Brazil showed great energy to dominate Slovakia following a five-set battle against Russia the night before. The South Americans exceled in forcing errors from their opponents, earning 38 points this way to the 18 they gave up. The winners were also superior in blocks (10-5), but the Europeans dominated in kills (48-47) and aces (8-4).

Middle blocker Juliana Costa was Brazil’s top scorer with 17 points (10 kills, five blocks and two aces), followed by opposite Larissa Mendes, with 13, and outside hitter Nicole Oliveira, with 12. Slovakian outside hitter Deana Valentova topped all scorers with 19 points (18 kills, one block), while opposite Marina Siladiova came off the bench to add 15.

“They played a game of patience and in some moments we lost ours,” Larissa commented. “I’m proud that we kept fighting and found a way to win the final points and take the match. They made several changes and sometimes it’s difficult to adjust to them since it’s the first time we’re playing them. But with time we figured it out. We’re very confident for our next matches, starting tomorrow against Bulgaria, and we want to play at our best and finish in the best place we can.”

Russia completed their pool play campaign in perfect fashion as the reigning European champions gave no chance to Argentina. With a powerful game, the pool winners outscored the South Americans in blocks (12-3) and aces (5-2). Offensively, Argentina were better, getting more kills than the Europeans (37-33), but their 25 errors proved too much against Russia’s seven.

The Russian block was once again a factor in their victory

The Russian block was once again a factor in their victory

Russian setter Viktoriia Kobzar once again relied on her middle blockers and Natalia Suvorova and Varvara Sergeeva led the team’s scoring efforts one more time with 13 points each – nine kills, two blocks and two aces for Suvorova and eight kills and five blocks for Sergeeva. The match’s top scorer, however, was Argentinean opposite Valentina Vaulet, who tallied 18 points, all in kills.

“I think we played a really good match,” Vaulet reflected. “Playing against teams like Russia, which have a very tall block, is always challenging because we don’t get to see teams like this in South America very often. I think we played really well, perhaps we could have made fewer mistakes when serving but against a strong team like Russia, we really had to risk it. We are playing really well in the tournament and the plan is to defeat Slovakia in our last match and hopefully get a better draw in the Round of 16.”