Sydney, Australia, June 28, 2015 – For two sets Australia faced the full force of the best volleyball team in the world, Brazil, but lived to tell the story of their 3-1 loss to the South Americans in the FIVB World League in Sydney.
As Australian captain Tom Edgar observed after the match, when Brazil play like Brazil there’s no team in the world that can go with them.
And so it was for two sets, with the flamboyant Brazilians toying with the Volleyroos in front of a full house at Sydney’s Olympic Park.
“In the first two sets, Brazil showed the skills they have – superior passing, another level of attack and defence far from our level,” Australian coach Roberto Santilli said of the 25-17, 25-18 opening set scorelines.
But then Santilli pulled a masterstroke, injecting the energetic Thomas Douglas-Powell and Olympic setter, Harry Peacock into the game.
Douglas-Powell’s enthusiasm and brazen style had an immediate effect, not only firing up the crowd but also waking his teammates from their slumber.
And it caught the Brazilians off guard.
“The match changed a lot during the third set,” Brazil assistant coach, Roberley Leonaldo, said.
“The Australian team changed their lineup, which gave them a new way to play. Number 15 (Douglas-Powell) and the setter (Peacock) gave them a new style and we found it hard to adapt.
“We expected difficulties here because we saw that Australia improved in the past few weeks.”
The Australians took the third set, 25-23, and then went point-for-point in the fourth set before Brazil finally edged ahead to seal the deal 25-20, and the match 25-17, 25-18, 23-25, 25-20.
“I’m sorry we started so slowly tonight,” Edgar said.
“Tomorrow we will be there from the start. Brazil came out like Brazil can play. No one can play Brazil when they play like that, that’s how they beat the best teams in the world.
“But we didn’t fire back, we were shooting blanks at that stage.”
Edgar was excited about the game of Douglas-Powell, very much a fringe player so far this year.
“He was amazing,” Edgar said.
“He’s such a confident player. I don’t know what was different today. He was a lot freer and a lot more energetic, it’s what we need from our younger players.”
Edgar finished with 21 points for the Volleyroos, but it Douglas-Powell who returned the eye-catching figures, with 13 points from just two full sets, including two aces, three blocks and eight spikes.
Ricardo Lucarelli led the way for Brazil with 18 points.
The two teams meet for the final time in this year’s World League tomorrow afternoon at Sydney Olympic Park, with Brazil aiming for a clean sweep of the four-match series.