A phenomenal USA comeback sealed back-to-back FIVB Volleyball Nations League titles after they defeated Brazil 3-2 in a match for the ages.
The two best teams in the competition fought tooth and nail throughout in an enthralling contest in Nanjing, China and it took a special performance from Annie Drews, who top scored with 33 points, to successfully defend USA’s title and take home the $1million winners’ cheque.
The opening set showcased the wonderful talent on display with Drews, who won the Most Valuable Player in the VNL and Gabriela Guimaraes battling it out as Brazil went ahead, winning the first set 25-20.
It was much the same intensity in the second, with Brazil and USA taking it in turns for the lead but the Green and Yellows were dealt a severe blow when captain Natalia Pereira captain came off with an injured calf.
The American serve makes a difference and @JordanLarson10 🇺🇸 is merciless!
— Volleyball World (@FIVBVolleyball) July 7, 2019
However, Brazil did not let this affect them as they turned it on when it mattered leaving USA a steep hill to climb from two sets behind.
USA continued to dig deep, and with the introduction of captain Jordan Parson proving crucial, they managed to get on the board to take it into a fourth set.
Lung-busting rallies continued in the fourth, drawing gasps from a packed out Nanjing Olympic Sport Center as USA trailed several times but found a way to take the final into a tantalising deciding set.
The USA were able to hold their nerve under extreme pressure from a tenacious Brazilian side to confirm an unforgettable comeback, with the winning point coming from a Karch Kiraly challenge for a net touch. The Challenge System agreed with Kiraly to send the American team into bedlam.
Jordan Larson, USA captain: “I can’t believe it. It’s an awesome feeling to come back from 2-0 as we fought really hard. Credit to Brazil as they played a great match but we’re so happy.
“It took a lot of effort and execution [to come back from 2-0]. It was a great team effort from us.”
How about that? An edge-of-your-seat, back-and-forth contest between two outstanding teams – it was a shame there was a loser. Those 6,000 in attendance will not be forgetting what they witness!
A thought for the Brazil captain Natalia Pereira, though, as the game changed when she came off as the momentum went in USA’s favour. Also, Gabi was extraordinary once again – a real star.
In the end, it was the contributions from everyone on the USA roster which enabled them to win another VNL title. They deserve all the plaudits.