Kraków, Poland, July 13, 2016 – Wing spiker Lucarelli paved the way for Brazil's victory over Italy in straight sets scoring a match-high 14 points including two superb aces in the first set.
It was a show of yellow power. Brazil easily claimed a win in straight sets thanks to the fantastic performance of Lucarelli - who was in doube before the match with a back injury - Wallace (12 pts) and Mauricio (11 pts), stopping Italy's super power Ivan Zaytsev, who was the second best scorer of the game with 13 points to his name.
It was Brazil's sixth win in the last eight World League meetings between these two but their first encounter in this season. In total, the two World League heavyweights have now met 34 times in the competition. Brazil winning 18 times and Italy 16. Brazil are in search of their 10th trophy in the World League. Their nine championships are already a record within the competition and one more than Italy's eight.
Italy opened the score with a spectacular spike by Osmany Juantorena. Coach Roberto Blengini’s players tried their best and built up a two-point lead, but Brazil did not give up and led 8-7 at the first technical time out. This was the beginning of Italy's troubles. The Canarinhos stepped up the pace thanks to the Lucarelli-Wallace duo and opened a 16-12 lead. Zaytsev did his best with some massive kills but could not close the gap. Two aces by Lucarelli gave Brazil set ball at 24-18 and Mauricio ended it with a great spike from the middle.
The powerful start of team Azzurri in the second set resulted in a point-by-point game. They finally stopped Lucarelli thanks to a triple block of Zaytsev, Simone Giannelli and skipper Emanuele Birarelli. It was just a temporary relief though, as the Brazilians easily came back into the game and led again at 10-7. Italy lost their rhythm, but Wallace did not. His huge kill at 14-8 energized the tribunes to support Brazil harder. Zaytsev’s attitude motivated his teammates and forced Brazil coach Bernardo Rezende to take a break at 17-14. The hosts of the Olympic Games were unstoppable in the last stage of the set and again the last point belonged to Mauricio, who hit from the left wing to close out the set at 25-20.
The situation in the third set was not very different. Brazil built a three-point advantage at the first technical time-out. Birarelli tried to intimidate the Brazilians with a massive individual block, just like Zaytsev, who did not stop spiking, and the score was level at 14-14 but unfortunately it was not enough to hold back Brazil. In a blink of an eye, Bernandinho’s team were ahead 20-15 before Mauricio killed from the middle again and the distracted Italians made a mistake which resulted in a 23-18 lead for the Canarinhos. Two more Mauricio's spikes sealed the set and Brazil's first victory in Kraków at 25-19 in the third set.