Gabi was unstoppable during the entire match and played a big role in Brazil's victory

Hosts Brazil will enter the weekend as the only undefeated team in Pool 2 of the Volleyball Nations League 2024 as the South Americans topped the United States in four sets on Friday in Rio de Janeiro. Canada and Serbia also triumphed in the fourth day of action at the Maracanãzinho stadium.

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Playing in front of thousands of their fans, the Brazilians, who had defeated Canada on Tuesday and Korea on Thursday, showed strength to top the Olympic champions 3-1 (25-22, 25-16, 18-25, 25-19) and stay clear at the top of the VNL standings with nine points.

Star outside hitter and team captain Gabriela ‘Gabi’ Guimarães was outstanding for the South Americans, producing a match-high 24 points (21 kills, two aces, one block) in her best performance in the VNL 2024 so far. Fellow Tokyo Olympic silver medalists Ana Cristina Souza and Rosamaria Montibeller added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

“I had goosebumps with the fans tonight,” Gabi said after the match. “It felt like a final on the court. We were committed to winning this match and played aggressively from start to finish, even when we struggled a little bit in the third set. This is our game and that’s how we want to approach every match from now on. We want to win a big tournament this season and the VNL is one of our goals.”

The victory also maintained Brazil in second place in the FIVB World Rankings - they had passed the United States on Thursday and earned 7.17 points on Friday to remain ahead of them. After losing the same amount, the Olympic champions dropped a spot for a second-straight day and now appear in fourth place.

The triumph at the Maracanãzinho marked the first time Brazil defeated the United States since 2019. The Americans won each of the six duels held in the period, including the gold medal match of the Tokyo Olympics, while dropping just two sets.

Tokyo Olympics MVP Jordan Larson was the only American player to get to double digits in scoring with 17 points (15 kills, one block, one ace). Fellow outside hitter Avery Skinner also had a solid display, coming off the bench in the third set to end the match with nine points. The USA have one win in three matches and are ranked 11th in the VNL 2024.

“Playing Brazil in Brazil is always a good fight,” American captain Jordyn Poulter reflected. “It’s an honor to be in a country that loves volleyball this much. I think a couple of things went wrong for us at different times tonight. We’re still trying to figure a lot of stuff out. We’re very much looking forward to playing at home in Arlington in two weeks.”

Before turning their focus to week 2 of the VNL in Arlington, the Americans will complete their schedule in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, at 14:00 local time (17:00 GMT), against the Dominican Republic. Brazil will have their fourth match on the same day, meeting Serbia at 10:00 local time (13:00 GMT).

Canada score big win over China

Earlier on Friday, Canada scored a big win that placed them closer to the Paris Olympics, downing China 3-1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 25-22) in Rio. The Canadians earned 11.01 World Ranking points with their triumph and got to 286.92, significantly closing the gap to the Netherlands (289.31), the last team inside the qualification zone, while remaining in 11th place. China dropped a spot in the rankings, going down to seventh.

Kiera Van Ryk and Alexa Gray combined for 48 points in the match, with the opposite tallying 27 (25 kills, two aces) and the outside hitter and Canadian captain adding another 21 (19 kills, two aces).

“We know how important every set is, so we’re really trying to stay focused on each point,” setter Brie O’Reilly said. “You don’t get that many opportunities to play teams that are ranked much higher than you, so when you do, you have to take advantage of it. We did it last night (against the Dominican Republic) and now we did it again. Now we have to take care of Thailand. It’s hard to find this balance between chasing our big dream and staying very present in each game, but we’re doing a great job of it.”

China (CHN) vs. Canada (CAN) women - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #15632869

Canadian players celebrate a huge win over China

In the opening match of the day, world champions Serbia claimed their first victory in the VNL 2024 by defeating Thailand 3-0 (25-13, 29-27, 25-19). The result earned 3.93 World Ranking points for the Europeans, who were able to gain two spots with it, going to third place - Thailand continue in 13th place.

Opposite Vanja Bukilic was the top scorer in the match, producing 17 points (13 kills, four aces), while outside hitter Sara Lozo contributed 14, with ten kills, three blocks and one ace.

Volleyball Nations League 2024: schedule and results

Three more matches will be held at the Maracanãzinho on Saturday, with Serbia and China meeting at 14:00 local time (17:00 GMT), Korea and the Dominican Republic playing at 17:30 local time (20:30 GMT) and Thailand and Canada battling at 21:00 local time (00:00 Sunday, GMT).

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