Brazil (BRA) vs. Italy (ITA) men - Pool A #7307981

Brazilian captain Bruno Rezende lifts the Olympic mascot in celebration

Seven years after defeating Italy in front of their home fans in a packed Maracanãzinho to triumph at the Rio 2016 Olympics and win their third gold medal in the event, Brazil secured another historic victory against their longtime rivals at the iconic stadium on Sunday.

With a spot at next year’s Paris 2024 Olympics on the line, the South Americans were on the winning side of a dramatic five-set battle at the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament, topping the Italians 3-2 (25-23, 23-25, 15-25, 25-17, 15-11) to qualify in Pool A.

  • Watch all matches of the Men's Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament on VBTV

With their sixth victory in seven matches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil end the Olympic Qualifier in second place, behind Germany. The South Americans will make their 16th Olympic appearance and will keep their tradition of never missing the Games. The Brazilians are not only regular Olympic participants, but are a true force in the Games, having won three golds and three silvers since the 1984 edition.

“It was amazing, very emotional,” team captain and setter Bruno Rezende reflected. “We had to suffer a lot, but we made it. I want to thank my teammates, our coaching staff and the fans. We had to go through a lot this week, but we never gave up.”

Rising star opposite Darlan Souza was Brazil’s leading scorer in an encounter full of ups and downs, registering a match-high 19 points, with 16 kills, two aces and one block. The 21-year-old opposite, who made his national team debut in 2022, scored four points in the tie-breaker.

“I have no words to describe how I feel now,” he said after the match. “I just wanted to thank everyone who came here over the week to support us. A lot of people doubted us, but we never stopped believing.”

Olympic champion outside hitter Ricardo Lucarelli was also huge for Brazil, adding 17 points (14 kills, three aces) and scoring the game-winning point with a strong serve.

Shortly after the conclusion of the match, Brazil’s head coach Renan Dal Zotto announced his decision to step down from his position, ending his six-year tenure with the national team.

Reigning world champions Italy, who will need to try to qualify for Paris 2024 via the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Rankings, had 16 points (all in kills) from outside hitter Daniele Lavia and another 14 (seven kills, four aces, three blocks) from Alessandro Michieletto.

Brazil became the seventh men’s national team guaranteed at next year’s Olympics, joining host country France, Pool A winners Germany, Pool B top sides the United States and Japan and Pool C qualifiers Poland and Canada.

Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament - Match Schedule and Results

With the two Olympic spots already claimed, the event came to an end on Sunday with three more matches. In one of them, Cuba and Iran battled for five sets until the Caribbean secured a 3-2 (25-20, 23-25, 23-25, 25-13, 15-9) victory. Cuban opposite Jesus Herrera notched 21 points, one less than Iranian opposite Amin Esmaeilnezhad.

Later, Germany kept their perfect record in Rio with their seventh victory, a 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-14) win over Ukraine. Playing with reserves, the Germans had in opposite Erik Röhrs, who registered 17 points (15 kills, one block, one ace), their main scorer.

The final match of the tournament had Czechia downing Qatar 3-1 (25-27, 28-26, 25-23, 25-21). Outside hitter Lukas Vasina and opposite Marek Sotola had both strong performances for the Europeans, with each of them contributing 24 points.

Quick links:
FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers
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