Yoandy Leal's game-winning goal propels Brazil to the semi-finals

Yoandy Leal’s game-winning goal propels Brazil to the semi-finals

After a four-set victory against Argentina, Brazil advanced to the semifinals of the FIVB Men’s World Championship 2022. Yoandy Leal, their outside hitter and the match’s top scorer, led his team to a 3-1 (25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21) quarterfinal triumph in Gliwice on Thursday.

In the late hours of Thursday, the semifinal opponents for Brazil’s Saturday matchup in Katowice will be revealed. At 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT), they’ll take on whomever emerges from tonight’s quarterfinal matchup between Poland and the United States in Gliwice.

The victory was in part due to the 25 points contributed by Leal. He led the team in scoring with 22 points (22 spikes, 65% success rate, 2 aces, 1 block), followed by Wallace De Souza of Brazil (13) and Bruno Lima of Argentina (13) in the scoring order.

It was when Wallace was serving that Brazil went on a four-point run to take the lead, 5-1. As the Argentines battled back to tie the score at 8-8, outside hitter Ezequiel Palacios was instrumental in the comeback. Brazil, with outside hitter Ricardo Lucarelli serving, pulled away for good with another run of five straight points at 13-8. When the score was 24-15, Leal served up set point with a spike and a block for a combined 10 points in the set, and Wallace finished it off with a swing at 25-16.

Agustin Loser was on fire for Argentina as they took an early lead in the second set, but Lucas Saatkamp responded with an ace to even the score at 12. In response, Lima hit an ace of his own, giving his side a 14-12 edge once again. Then Leal scored from the end zone, making the score 15-15 again. Brazil took the lead for good, 19-18, thanks to a huge block by Wallace. However, their opponents held their calm and rallied to tie the match at 23-all before Lima struck the winning kill to win it 25-23.

Flavio Gualberto, Brazil’s middle blocker, sparked an early 6-3 lead in the third set with two consecutive kill blocks. With Wallace serving hard, they maintained the pressure on to increase their lead to 10-6, and then they held off the aggressive efforts at a comeback by Argentina all the way until Leal swung in the last touch to win the set, 25-22.

This time it was Leal who served up the first ace in the fourth set, making the score 7-5. But a pair of big blocks by outside hitters Facundo Conte and Loser gave Argentina an 8-7 advantage. They were even able to extend the lead to three points, which led Brazil to replace their starting setter, Fernando Kreling, with the team’s captain, Bruno Rezende.

A blazing ace from Leal tied the match at 16 for the Brazilians. As each side made their case, it continued in this fashion for some time. Lucas hit an ace in the deciding set to give Brazil a 22-20 lead and he served through match point. A few seconds later, the Brazilians had won 25-21 thanks to a mistake by their opponent.

Lucarelli commented after the game, “We knew it was going to be tough, but a game against Argentina is always difficult.” Not only are we ecstatic to have advanced to the semifinals, but also because we triumphed in a really challenging match. The semi-finals will not be much easier. The game will be challenging regardless of who they play, Poland or the United States. But for now, let’s have some fun, since tomorrow is a new chapter.


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