Brazil's Tandara powers through Japan
The 29 year-old, who had 16 points to her name on Tuesday, took a while to settle but once she found her mark, she was unstoppable, scoring a whopping 25 points (including 2 aces) as she piled spike after spike on a poor Japan defense in an eye-watering performance.
Tandara was ably assisted by middle blocker Adenizia Da Silva (9 blocks, 15 points) as the Olympic champs scored their first points coming from behind.
Japan perhaps deserved better after an impressive showing as the Asian blocked had dominated the first set (5 of the team's 13 in total) and Sarina Koga scored 15 points.
Pool hosts Brazil were out to redeem themeselves after their shocking opening day defeat in the hands of Germany - but Japan also needed to bounce back after they lost to Serbia.
And just as they did against Germany, the Brazilians took an early lead as Gabriela Braga Guimaraes turned on the style (6-3). For the longest time, the South Americans remained in control despite Kanami Tashiro's smart decision making at the net and two reversed calls (16-12). Japan's block then started to thwart Brazil's plan with 5 kills into the first set to level at 18-18. All of a sudden, the pressure mounted onto the hosts as Tandara Caixata missed spike after spike (25-22).
With now four straight sets lost for their favourites, the home crowd were less than happy. The local fans did have something to smile about, however, when the 2016 Olympic gold medallists finally hit the target thanks to no one but Tandara (6-4). The Osasco wing spiker kept on the good work and lead the Seleçao to a 17-11 lead as the Japanese block lost the manual. Now in cruise control, a Roberta-lead Brazil remained in front despite a last-minute rally from Japan (25-18).
It seemed to have no effect on coach Kumi Nakada's team as the Japanese started strong while Brazil once again lurched back into old and inefficient routines (7-4). But the hosts clawed back into the game as their defence finally woke up and captain Roberta Silva Ratzke came up with a sensational block (9-9). It was just what was needed for the Brazilians to assert themselves: with their nose now in front as well as a really good defense, the South Americans seemed untouchable when they leapfrogged their opponents (16-13) but a magnificient spike from Sarina Koga kept Japan alive heading into the business end of the third (18-18). Another huge Tandara spike and a deft play by Roberta helped the Brazilians turn the table on Japan (25-23).
The Asians, ranked 6th in the world, completely collapsed in the fourth, allowing their hosts to run away with it (12-4) as the Japanese machine misfired and Saori Takahashi got it all wrong. A Brazil double save and a fabulous dig from Amanda then saw the South American champions remain in a commanding position (16-7). Nothing was to stop Brazil from easing past a defenseless Japan: it was only a matter of when, not if, as the massively popular libero Jaque came on in the closing minutes to wrap it up (25-11).
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