The last time Itambe Minas faced defending champion Sir Sicoma Perugia in the FIVB Men’s Volleyball Club World Championships, it faced a devastating 3-0 defeat.
Now, the Brazilian outfit is ready for a turnaround after defeating Japan’s Suntory Sunbirds in a nervy semifinal with a 3-2 scoreline.
Minas faced a setback when its star player Isac Santos’ nasty fall in the first set forced him sit out the remaining match.
Lucas Loh, Minas’ captain, voiced his optimism that Santos’ injury was not severe and that he would probably play in the final after the doctor’s approval. “Even though he (Santos) sprained his ankle, falling on the serve, I don’t think it is serious,” said Loh.
The loss at the hands of the Italian outfit during the pool stage is not a cause of concern for Minas, which wants to perform with the same energy displayed in the semis.
“We have already played against them (Sicoma) and know how they are. We need to bring back the energy we had for the game,” he added.
Sicoma is yet to face a five-setter in the tournament, and Loh feels Minas has a slight advantage over its opponent in this aspect.
The defending champion has dominated the tournament and is yet to drop a set. Despite its past performances, Sicoma has only one motto for the summit clash, a policy that worked in the semifinals — to stay focused.
“The semifinal was hard, but we started well and continued the momentum till the end. We know that there are players in the opposition who could change the game. Our coach said, ‘You have to stay focused, no matter what’. We listened to him and did just that,” said Sicoma outside hitter Oleh Plotnytskyi.
Plotnytskyi was swift in emphasizing that a comfortable tournament so far did not guarantee the side its second consecutive title.
His teammate Simone Giannelli, the crowd favourite, had a similar opinion. “We won this title last year, but now we are here. Since we won this title, we know it will be difficult as we face a strong team like Minas,” said Giannelli.
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