Nancy, France, 2 July 2016 – Despite the Red Dragons' impressive performance, Brazil caught the final match point at the end of a tight five-set battle 3-2 (20-25 25-23 22-25 25-23 15-11).
The last time Brazil and Belgium played against each other for an official match was in… 1974. That year, Brazil had won easily in straight sets. But today, the Red Dragons offered a true challenge to Brazil, leading the world no 1 to a fifth set.
After their loss against reigning champions France the day before, Dominique Baeyens' men needed to react, if not through the score, at least in terms of attitude, according to the coach. Without any doubt, Sam Deroo and his teammates rose to the challenge.
With 26 points, Gert Van Walle was the best scorer of the game, followed by the Brazilian duo Wallace and Lucarelli on 23 and 21 respectively.
Belgium clearly led the game from the very beginning to the end, driven by Van Walle and middle-blocker Simon Van de Voorde, with a maxium difference of 7 points (13-20). Belgium took advantage of Brazil's errors (7 to Belgium's 4), including set point gifted on a service fault from captain Bruno for 20-25.
Both teams raised their service level in the second set, as first aces finally arrived from Tomas Rousseaux, Murilo and Eder. The set was really tight until 19-19. Then, Lucarelli brought Brazil in the lead with an ace (21-20). Van Walle failed twice with his spike and made a gifted Bernardo Rezende's squad a couple of points for 24-21. Pieter Verhees saved two set balls (with a spike for 24-22, and a block for 24-23) before Wallace caught the set point spiking over Verhees.
The third set started without captain Brazil Bruno, who was substituted in the middle of the second by William Arjona. The set was balanced until 21-21, thanks to Verhees incredible shape, but after two discussed videos challenges, Belgium brought it home.
Brazil began the fourth set with an unusual pressure and a a quick 6-3 lead, which Belgium promptly erased for 6-7. It remained tight until 20-19 when Bruno, back on court, played an incredible "Ngapeth" combination with Lucarelli. Murilo narrowed the gap with a double ace for 23-20) and Van Walle served into the net for set point.
The Brazilians' efforts were rewarded in the fifth -a tiebreak dominated by Bruno and his teammates, who showed impressive motivation being ruthless on the net. Full of incredible rallies, the tiebreak ended when Murilo hammered Belgium libero Jelle Ribbens with a galactic diagonal spike.