Over the course of the last few weeks I’ve made many predictions about various aspects of the World Championships. Without going through all of them one by one, I’m pretty sure my success rate was disappointingly low. But I did get the main one right. At the end of the day, when all was said and done, the last team left standing was Brazil. After the events of the last few days, I had quite high hopes for the final. But that was another failed prediction. Brazil began with an aggressive blocking tactic to shut down Cuba’s really strong position 4 hitters (Leon and Leal) and leaving their relatively weak opposite (Hernandez) to spike mostly against a single block. To say the tactic was successful was one of the milder understatements of the week. Finding themselves unable to get through in their normal way, Cuba’s setter forced more balls than normal to Hernandez who made multiple errors and Brazil were quickly ahead 2-0. Cuban coach Samuels in a last throw of the dice put Leon to opposite in the third set which was effective for a while, but was too little too late. Brazil certainly didn’t play at their best. Dante made some quite inexplicable errors and Murilo was again a bit below his best but Vissotto was great again and Bruno held it all together well. However, defence wins championships (apparently) and their block / defence was decisive.
In the playoff for the bronze medal, Serbia finished an excellent tournament by beating Italy. If it turns out to be the last international tournament for Nikola Grbic then it would be a fitting end to a wonderful career that began with a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics and includes countless successes and awards.
I’m sure in the coming days I will have many more thoughts, but that’s about all for now.
All of the results and statistics and official press releases are here.