Brazil overcomes early US attack; Will face Dominican Republic in final
Brazil brought the hammer down on Team USA's title dreams.
But much like a seasoned heavyweight champion, the Brazilians dusted themselves off and went to business defeating the US in four sets; 22-25, 25-22, 25-19 and 25-14. The top-ranked team in the world enjoyed a height advantage and an exuberant crowd.
Team USA also needed a monumental performance from its dynamic duo of Jordan Larson, but they were out of sorts Friday night. The two combined for only 20 points, neither recorded a service ace, and both had a few embarrassing errors. Richards actually almost decapitated an elderly-looking scorekeeper with a miss-hit, prompting the US coach to bench her for the remainder of set two and all of set three to perhaps clear her head. It didn't work.
Richards (left) and Larson (right) had an off-night against the wrong team.
It's clear the Brazilians are the best in the world. Buoyed by a cacophony of drums, whistles, thundersticks (inflatable noise-making balloons invented by the devil) and chanting from the crowd, Sheilla Castro scored 21 points with Welissa de Souza Gonzaga and Fabiana Marcelino Claudino each adding 13 points. The Brazilian players have one-name status in South America much like Cher or Prince, and with more performances like their most recent triumph against the US, they will enjoy the one-name treatment on our continent as well.
Brazil's victory earns them a spot in today's 6 p.m. final against the Dominican Republic in what will be a rematch. The Dominican Republic upset Brazil in five sets earlier in the tournament and looked formidable against Puerto Rico also taking them to five sets; 34-36, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21 and 15-9.
Brazil's crowd made the BankUnited Center look like North Rio for the night.