Carol is one of six Tokyo Olympic medallists to be a part of Brazil's VNL roster

Brazil's women’s national team is set for a fresh start in 2022 and the first opportunity to see the country’s new-look squad in action is at the Volleyball Nations League.

One of the most successful teams at the international level, the Brazilians have added a myriad of new faces to their VNL squad this year. Despite the numerous changes, however, they are confident they will be able to continue competing with the best teams in the world.

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The fact that head coach Jose ‘Ze Roberto’ Guimaraes has included only six members of the team that took silver at last year’s Tokyo Olympics in his 25-player VNL squad suggests that there has been a massive turnover of players. But considering the team has managed to remain successful in recent years despite the absences of players like Olympic champions Fabiana Claudino, Sheilla Castro and Thaisa Menezes, indicates that their ambitions remain justified.

“We’ve been transitioning our roster for a few years now,” said middle blocker Ana Carolina ‘Carol’ da Silva, who is one of the six Tokyo Olympians on the team. “It was obviously great to have players like Natalia (Pereira), (Fernanda) Garay or Tandara (Caixeta) with us over the last few years, because they were able to make a difference in any match and brought a great deal of experience to the team. But we’ve been preparing for this moment for some time and I hope it happens naturally for us, the veterans, and also for the younger players who are joining the team. Brazil have thrived when the squad had this kind of mix and I’m sure it won’t be any different now.”

New faces will be seen everywhere on the court, with the likely exception of the setter position, where Tokyo silver medallists Macris Carneiro and Roberta Ratzke continue with the team. The middle blocker position will be where several of the new players will compete for playing time as three of the five players available could play in the VNL for the first time in their careers.

A member of the Brazilian national team since 2014, Carol is easily the most experienced of the group of players called up by Ze Roberto and the only remaining player to have competed at the highest level of international volleyball since Tokyo Olympians Carol Gattaz and Ana Beatriz ‘Bia’ Correa were not included.

Because of that, the 31-year-old Carol will inevitably serve as a point of reference for the incoming 25-year-old Mayany Souza, 23-year-old Diana Alecrim, 22-year-old Lorena Viezel and 19-year-old Julia Kudiess.

“The same way I learned a lot from the more experienced players when I first joined the team, they will have the same opportunity now,” she explained. “They are young but have great potential and have been playing at a very high level in the Brazilian Superliga. I’m looking forward to helping with my experience but I’m sure each of them will find their own path to grow. The middle blocker position has always been a strength for Brazil, with players that not only performed at a very high level, but also had leadership roles. I hope I can help that continue.”

Despite the numerous changes and the need to make adjustments, Carol is optimistic about Brazil’s chances of succeeding in the 2022 season and returning to the VNL final for a third consecutive time.

The team will have another important challenge from September 23 through October 23, when they will compete at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship, another tournament they are yet to win.

“It’s a moment for us to work internally and strengthen our team,” Carol said. “Teams like USA, China, Serbia and Italy have great talent and players who can win a match on their own, but for us, it will always be about teamwork. Brazil will always be in the mix. We might not be the favourites or have a player who will give us a 30-point performance, but what makes us strong is playing as a team, training hard and preparing well. We really need to get more chemistry and fine-tune our collective game to be able to challenge them. We know that at this level, it typically comes down to details and we need to be ready to deliver in the key moments.”


Carol in action during last year's VNL in Rimini

Brazil started their VNL campaign on Tuesday against Germany and claimed a 3-1 (29-27, 23-25, 27-25, 25-21) win. In Week 1, they play in Shreveport-Bossier City, USA and will also take on Poland, the Dominican Republic and hosts USA in a rematch of last year’s VNL and Olympic finals.