Kraków, Poland, July 15, 2016 – Brazil prevailed over USA 3-2 (24-26, 21-25, 28-26, 25-21) in the match concluding the Pool K1 competition sending the Americans back home.
USA needed a 3-0 or 3-1 victory in Friday's encounter to stay in the tournament but Bernardinho’s team did their job. Evandro deprived the American dream about the medal with 25 points on his account. His performance overshadowed Matt Anderson’s 21 points. USA lost largely due to their own errors – 34 in the whole game, while Brazil made 26.
This was the 39th meeting in the World League between the two nations, Brazil have won 29 of them claiming also their 10th victory in 11 matches in the 2016 World League.
USA started fully focused on the goal. Anderson tried to keep yesterday’s scoring level from the start but Isac’s blocks did not let him show maximum power. The tight score forced the 2014 champions to step up their efforts and Taylor Sander made it all work at 19-15. The Canarinhos are not known for giving up easily, so they managed to reduce the gap and fight on a point-by-point basis until 24-24. Finally USA pushed back the attack and ended with the set at 26-24.
Brazil seemed to have a problem as coach John Speraw’s men gained their momentum. Aron Russell threatened with his right hand, setting USA ahead at 9-6. A moment later Isaac threw a bomb from the 9m line and tied it at 10-10. Until the end both teams were close, but USA took advantage of Maxwell Holt’s height who effectively blocked Isac at 21-17. David Lee used well the second chance to close the set at 25-21.
Unfortunately, Russell had to leave the court due to a thigh injury and Will Priddy substituted him after the 10-minute break. His experience was valuable, but Bernardo Rezende’s team flipped the charts around and took a three-point lead at 10-7. The Americans pursued the score, Anderson took responsibility in spiking and levelled the score at 15-15. They found a way to stop Evandro, but at 21-18 Felipe frustrated USA with his massive kill. At that point anything could happen and indeed, a moment later captain Lee knocked the ball on the floor right under Wallace's legs. There was only a one-point gap between the teams. At 23-23 Micah Christenson sent an ace and to set up matchball. It was not the end though. Felipe put all his power to the serve and prolonged the ending before Isac blocked Anderson to give Brazil the set at 28-26, keeping the nine-time champions in the game.
Mistakes on both sides opened the fourth set – in previous sets Brazil made 21 and USA 22 own errors in total. Thomas Jaeschke and Murphy Troy, who replaced Anderson and Priddy, helped the team in chasing the Canarinhos. Rezende’s squad preserved the lead from the beginning and at the second technical time-out they were ahead 16-13 on the scoreline. Coach Speraw looked disappointed, because his team was on the way to lose their ticket to the semifinals. Douglas missed the serve at 19-17 but Evandro fixed his fault with an amazing spike from the right wing. Angry Christenson dinked aggressively and shortened the distance to 22-20. Anderson returned on the court, but Brazil were on their way. Wallace smashed the ball, Douglas repeated it in the next rally and they ended the American dream of the semifinals with the fourth set win at 25-21.
Despite losing the chance to win this year’s title, US team did not give up and wanted to say goodbye with a victory. They led 8-5, but the Brazilian block was too high for Troy and the nine-time champions used Eder's good serve to reduce the gap to one point. The hosts of the 2016 Olympic Games edged ahead at 13-12 and thanks to technical serves from Isac and a block from Felipe, the world No. 1 won their second game in Kraków to book a semifinal against France.