Photo: Brazilian Volleyball Team
Brazil advanced to the final of the Olympic women’s volleyball tournament with a 3-0 victory here Thursday over Japan, setting up another showdown with the United States.
The South Americans’ blocking prowess was the difference in the semifinal match as they repeatedly stymied a Japanese side that was the shortest in the competition, averaging just 1.75 meters (less than 5-feet-9).
The 25-18, 25-15, 25-18 victory was one of the most comfortable during this year’s Olympics for the Brazilians, who lost two games in the round-robin phase and then miraculously escaped with a win Tuesday over Russia in the quarterfinals, rallying from a two-set-to-one deficit and staving off six match points to stay alive in the competition.
But Brazil needed no drama on Thursday thanks in large part to its size advantage, winning eight points on blocks in the first set alone.
Japan, meanwhile, could do little against the powerful spiking of Thaisa Menezes, Fernanda Garay and especially Sheilla Castro, who put the team on her back at the start of the third set with a series of blasts at the net.
In Saturday’s final, Brazil will take on a powerful American squad that is the three-time defending World Grand Prix champion and convincingly won the teams’ Pool B contest last week three sets to one.
Menezes and Castro were both members of the 2008 Brazilian squad that handily defeated the United States in the women’s volleyball final at the Beijing Games.
Japan will square off for the bronze Saturday against South Korea, which lost 3-0 Thursday to the United States.