Sole, Ramos help Argentina earn first ever World League win against Brazil


Sebastian Sole (centre) had four blocks to lead Argentina to its first ever World League win over eternal rivals Brazil

Cordoba, Argentina, June 17, 2017 – History was made in Cordoba on Saturday night as Argentina claimed their first ever FIVB Volleyball World League victory over eternal rivals Brazil, with a sensational 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-19) win that will live long in the memory.

The hosts produced a wonderful team performance to beat their neighbours for the first time at the 24th time of asking in World League competition. Martin Ramos - who paced Argentina with 18 points against Serbia on Friday - led the way once again with 13 points, while the imposing Sebastian Sole added nine points and a game-high four blocks.

Ironically, Brazil comfortably topped the scoring charts through Wallace De Souza (18 points) and Ricardo Lucarelli Souza (15 points), but the Olympic champions were undone by indiscipline and costly errors as they conceded just their third World League defeat of the season.

World League - Infographic

On paper this was expected to be a formality for Brazil, which were already assured a place in the Final Six in Curitiba, as hosts. Argentina, on the other hand, had seen their chances of qualification evaporate in Friday's 3-2 defeat to defending champions Serbia, and were simply playing for pride on home soil in Cordoba - as well as the opportunity to finally break their duck against the most successful nation in World League history.

World League – Match Statistics by Players

Brazil were therefore overwhelming favourites coming into the game, and underlined their status by easing into a 3-0 lead in the first set. The 9,000-strong crowd at the Orfeo Superdomo roared on the home side at every possible opportunity, but in spite of a couple of aces from Alejandro Toro, the Olympic champions were simply too strong and continued to keep the Argentinians at arm's length.

Toro produced a fine block to narrow the gap to four points, but an authoritative spike from Lucas Saatkamp soon had the Brazilians back in control (16-10). Good work from Lucarelli put Brazil within touching distance of the first set (21-14), affording coach Renan Dal Zotto the luxury of making several changes with a view to the upcoming Final Six. Bruno Mossa Rezende, Wallace and Lucarelli all made way as the visitors eased into a one-set lead (25-19).

Brazil were then guilty of taking their foot off the pedal at the start of the second set, allowing Argentina to get a foothold in the match. Sole got the home crowd going with a sensational block (6-6), before reproducing more of the same magic to put his side firmly in the driving seat (13-9). Brazil were suddenly at sixes and sevens, with Ramos and Sole dominating at the net and pushing the gap out to seven points by the next time-out (16-9).

Lucas Saatkamp finally stopped the rot for Brazil with a well-placed spike, but a couple of cheap errors allowed Argentina to close in on the set (19-11). Ramos came to the fore again with a thumping spike and a superb block in quick succession (22-15), but the hosts were clearly feeling the heat as the Olympic champions reduced the arrears with a four-point charge (22-19). However, Ramos - who else? - steadied the ship before Argentina converted the second of four set points to level up the match (25-21).

World League – Match Photo

The third set got off to a lively start as Saatkamp finished off a brilliant rally for Brazil, but Toro responded with a thundering spike for Argentina. Wallace came off the bench to give the visitors a visible boost, and they began to turn the screw with more good work from Saatkamp and Lucarelli. Julio Velasco's side appeared to be flagging, but Pablo Crer showed great technique to keep them in it (14-16).

Argentina found their mojo at just the right time and won one of the rallies of the match to even things up (16-16). Alexis Gonzalez, Luciano De Cecco and Nicolas Bruno produced a defensive masterclass to keep the hosts in the point, before the latter forced Brazil's Mauricio Souza into making an error. The crowd at the Orfeo Superdomo could barely contain themselves as Argentina went in front following a huge block from Crer, and Bruno raised the roof as he fired the hosts into a 2-1 lead (25-22).

Argentina suddenly had the wind in their sails and made a confident start to the fourth set, with a lovely spike from Ramos putting him into double figures (4-2). Sole also got involved as the home faithful began to suspect they were on the verge of something historic - an impression that Toro and Bruno did nothing to dispel as they finished off two superb rallies to keep the hosts on top (8-5). Brazil finally responded after a talking-to from Dal Zotto at the first technical time-out, with Wallace giving them a slender advantage (10-9).

Argentina were soon back in the driving seat, though, with a delicate effort from Sole handing them a four-point lead (15-11). The towering middle blocker was at it again a few minutes later as the hosts began to leave the Olympic champions trailing in their wake (21-14). The tension was palpable heading into the business end of the set, but Brazil proved to be their own worst enemies, with Eder sending a serve into the net to bring up match point for the hosts (24-18).

Bruno saved one, but Sole got the decisive block as Argentina finally - finally! - claimed a World League victory over their illustrious neighbours (25-19). Though it is Brazil who will go on to the Final Six next month, this was Argentina's night, and the celebrations in Cordoba will no doubt last long into the night.

Matches on Sunday


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