Brazil join Serbia in final after beating Italy at Women's Volleyball World Championship

Players of Brazil celebrate after the semifinal match between Brazil and Italy at the 2022 Volleyball Women's World Championship in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, Oct. 13, 2022. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

With extremely solid defense and organized attacking, Brazil defeated Italy 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19) in the semifinals of the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship on Thursday, setting up a final showdown with reigning champions Serbia.

Brazil, who had won Olympic gold at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, have never won the World Championship, losing all three previous finals in 1994, 2006, and 2010.

In a mouthwatering clash between the top two teams in the FIVB world rankings, world No.2 Brazil took sweet revenge for their defeat in the Nations League final in July, beating Italy for the second time in this tournament.

Brazil's victory boiled down to their ultra-defensive display, ending with an impressive 21 blocks against just seven from their opponents. The Italians, although better in attack (67-56) and aces (four to zero), almost doubled the number of errors by the Brazilians (21-13), which buried their hopes of making a second consecutive final.

"We came to the World Championship with the goal of playing in the final and we took it one step at a time," said Brazil's middle blocker Ana Carolina da Silva, who was arguably the key player with 17 points, including 10 blocks.

Italy's star opposite Paola Egonu swept a game-high 30 points, but was unable to stop Brazil's excellent teamwork, with captain and outside hitter Gabriela Guimaraes leading the charge with 20 points. Opposite Lorenne Teixeira scored 14, while middle blocker Carol Gattaz and outside hitter Rosamaria Montibeller added 11 each.

"I think our blocking and defense worked really well tonight and that's one of our main strengths, but we can still do better," Montibeller said. "We stuck to our gameplan and even when Italy created problems for us, we were still grounded and focused enough to maintain our organization on the court."

Brazil will fight for their maiden World Championship title against Serbia on Saturday, while Italy will contest for the bronze medal with the United States in the third-place playoff.

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