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2024 VNL Season

Darlan Souza tows Brazil over Netherlands in VNL Manila opener

Brazil kicked off its bid for the 2024 FIVB Men’s Nations League Final Round on a rousing note with a four-set victory, 24-26, 25-23, 31-29, 25-20, over the Netherlands on Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The win sent the South Americans to a 6-3 win-loss record, just ahead of Poland, France, and Japan—all tied at 6-2.

Opposite hitter Darlan Ferreira Souza led the attack for Brazil with 26 points from 20 attacks, three blocks, and three aces, including the kill that gave his squad a 23-19 cushion in the fourth and final set.

As throughout the match, the Canarinhos secured two more kills from the right side, with Alan Souza stepping up to score.

“It was a very tough match, knowing it is a very important week for all of us going into the Final Round,” said Darlan of the heated one-hour-and-56-minute battle. “The Netherlands played so well, but we just had to dictate our pace, and we eventually got the win.”

The match was a see-saw battle at the onset before Fabian Plak delivered two straight aces to put the Orangemen in front at 11-7, forcing Brazil head coach Bernardo Rezende to call for time.

The South Americans found their rhythm at the net to take the lead with Lucas Saatkamp and Flavio Resende Gualberto. Still, a kill by Nimir Abdel-Aziz and an ace from substitute Silverster Meijs gave the Netherlands the extended opener at 26-24.

The Dutch used this momentum to mount a 15-10 advantage in the second set, with back-to-back service aces from captain Nimir.

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However, the Brazilians cleaned up their reception pattern to activate their wing hitters Darlan and Yoandy Leal Hidalgo for multiple right-side kills before ending the set with a match-equalizing attack from the middle, courtesy of Lucas, 25-23.

The pivotal third set followed the same script as the first two, dragging the game into another extension.

Nimir pulled the Netherlands ahead, but Leal and Lucas found an answer to the Dutch captain, with the latter and his captain Lucarelli denying him to take the 2-1 set advantage and secure a 31-29 victory.

Lucas was an offensive option in the middle for the Rezende-mentored side, adding 12 points from seven kills, three blocks, and two service aces, while fellow middle blocker Flavio finished with five attacks and six blocks for a total of 11.

Darlan and the rest of the Brazilian side will take on cross-continent rivals the United States (3-5) in a crucial match on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Brazil’s win spoiled a huge 38-point performance for the now 3-6 Netherlands from Nimir, who scored 33 spikes and five service aces, while Maarten Van Garderen chipped in with 15 attack points.

The Netherlands will try to bounce back and keep its Olympic bid afloat when it faces the struggling but dangerous Iran (0-8) side at 3 p.m. on the same day.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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