Brazil, Russia advance to volleyball title match


Tournament favorite Brazil beat Serbia and Montenegro and Russia downed defending champion Italy on Wednesday, moving into the final of the Women’s Volleyball World Championship.

Led by Sheilla Castro, who scored a match-high 20 points, Brazil won 25-17, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20 to reach the final without a loss in 10 matches from the first round.

“I’m happy that we won the match, but not happy with the performance of my team in the third and fourth sets,” Brazil head coach Jose Guimaraes said.

A string of unforced errors cost the Brazilians the third set, but they rallied from down 9-4 in the fourth set and took the lead for good at 16-15 on a kill by Caroline Gattaz, who subbed into the match in the fourth set, at Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium.

“We regained our concentration and were able to finish off the match,” Brazil captain Fofao said.

Serbia and Montenegro, ranked 30th in the world, upset Italy on the opening day and was undefeated until losing to host Japan late in the second round. But Brazil proved too much for the rising Balkan side.

“What I can say for sure is that Brazil has a better-quality team than us, and even if we had played the best we could, we wouldn’t have been able to win,” Serbia and Montenegro head coach Zoran Terzic said.

In the other semifinal match, Russia swept Italy 25-19, 25-16, 25-20.

Russia took control of the match early and continued to dominate at the net, with its block points outnumbering those of Italy 12 to four.

Lioubov Shashkova had a match-high 21 points, and Ekaterina Gamova followed with 14.

“Italy won the championship four years ago, and we were very determined to beat them,” said Shashkova, who connected on 18 kills out of 25 attempts.

Russia has lost just once in the tournament — to Brazil in four sets in its final second-round match.

“I know that Brazil is the No. 1 team in the world right now, but we are prepared to compete with them both mentally and physically,” Russia head coach Giovanni Caprara said.

“Compared to our previous match against Brazil, we should be better in attacking and be more creative.”

On Thursday, Italy and Serbia and Montenegro will play the bronze-medal match at noon, followed by the Brazil-Russia final at 2:30 p.m.

The 24-nation Men’s Volleyball World Championship begins Friday. First-round matches will be held in Nagano, Sendai, Fukuoka and Saitama.