Volleyball: Brazil through to final
Updated: Thursday, 09 Aug 2012 21:09
Defending champions Brazil set up a repeat of the 2008 Olympic volleyball final with the United States by seeing off Japan in straight sets.
The South Americans have been slow burners this tournament, only scraping through the group stages at the death, but have come into their own since the knockout stages begun.
They subjected Russia to their first defeat of 2012 in the quarter-finals and tonight disposed of a Japan side who had also had to scrap their way to the last four.
China were their quarter-final victims in a five-set struggle and they still seemed to be feeling the pace tonight as Brazil had too much size and strength for them to handle.
The Japanese opt for a quick and subtle style owing to their lack of height and against sides of a similar nature, such as China, that can prove beneficial.
But against Brazil their agility and nimbleness counted for little as they were thumped out of sight, with the likes of Sheilla (13 points) and Thaisa (12) utterly dominant at the net.
Thaisa in particular has been an example of how Brazil have fared in the Games. Indifferent at the start, she was faultless against Russia and similarly excellent tonight with four blocks shutting down the dangerous Soari Kimura.
Libero Fabi was omnipresent on the floor too, her defence providing the platform for her team-mates to do take the fame to Japan and, when the final point was recorded, she was the one the rest of the squad piled on to in celebration.
They danced wildly in front of the thousands of Brazil fans crammed inside Earls Court, many of them having stood on the streets for hours with signs begging for a ticket swap having initially been given United States v South Korea ones, serenading coach Roberto Guimaraes who joined in with the fun.
Eventually they left the court, but not before playing some bongos borrowed from the crowd, demonstrating just how pleased they were to have made a return to the gold medal match.