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Volleyball: Holders Brazil lead the way at World Grand Champions Cup in Japan

Mauricio Borges Almeida was Brazil's top scorer in their hard-fought 3-0 win over the USA on the second day of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Japan, which left the defending champions as the only team to win their first two matches. Photo: FIVB.

Mauricio Borges Almeida was Brazil’s top scorer in their hard-fought 3-0 win over the USA at the World Grand Champions Cup in Japan, which left the defending champions as the only team to win their first two matches. Photo: FIVB.

November 20, 2013: Brazil are the only team to win their opening two games at the FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup in Japan after edging the USA in three tight games (31-29, 25-23, 25-23) at Kyoto Prefectural Gymnasium on Wednesday.

 

Mauricio Borges Almeida was Brazil’s top scorer with 13 points, supported by Wallace De Souza with 12, as the side bid for their third consecutive title and fourth overall in the quadrennial tournament, which was inaugurated in 1993. For the USA, Matthew Anderson again led the way, with 17 points.

 

Brazil coach Bernardo Rezende said: “We played a three-set match, but it felt like a tie breaker. We fought for each point. We had the advantage and they recovered, then they had the advantage and we recovered. This was a great match with systems working well on both sides.”

 

Iran, who lost to Brazil on Tuesday, needed five sets to eventually upset Italy 3-2 (26-24, 16-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12), marking the side’s second victory this year over the European Championship silver medallists.

 

Mohammad Mousavi inspired Iran with an incredible defensive effort, with eight of his 17 points coming from blocks. Italy had five players in double digits, led by Jiri Kovar, also with 17 points.

 

Iran coach Julio Velasco said: “We’re very happy we beat Italy because they’re always one of the best teams. In the second and third sets, their blocking caused many problems for us, but in service and reception our team was better. We received their strong services well and that made a difference at the end of the match.”

 

After losing to Italy on Tuesday, reigning Olympic and European champions Russia –making their debut appearance in the event – got back on track by routing hosts Japan in straight sets (25-16, 25-17, 25-18). Kunihiro Shimizu top scored for the hosts with 14.

 

Brazil lead the standings with six points from two matches, Italy are second with four, while Iran, Russia and USA are all on three. Japan, who lost to the USA on Tuesday, are in last place with zero.

 

After a day’s break on Thursday, the six-team tournament will switch cities to the capital and resume on Friday at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, which will host the final three days of action. USA play Italy, Iran take on Russia and Japan tackle

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