Jani shines as Brazil claim second Paralympic bronze

Jani Freitas Batista was a force at the net as she tallied 13 attacks and five blocks that helped Brazil secure a second bronze medal victory at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games women’s sitting volleyball at Makuhari Messe Hall.

Brazil followed-up on their bronze medal win in their home Games in Rio de Janeiro five years ago with a 3-1 (25-15, 24-26, 26-24, 25-14) win over Canada on Saturday to complete their campaign in Tokyo in third place.

Camila Leiria de Castro and Adria Jesus da Silva finished with 13 and 10 points, respectively, including the combined nine blocks they added to Brazil’s total block output of 19.

Canada had four players scoring in double figures, with Heidi Peters leading the team with 14 points, and Katelyn Wright, Danielle Ellis and Jennifer Oakes who contributed 13, 12 and 11 points, respectively.

“I feel very happy and very good. The bronze medal is like a gold medal for us. We faced a lot of difficulty of not being able to train before this because of the pandemic,” Brazil libero Gizele Maria da Costas Dias said.

“We made a comeback in the third set as our coach reminded us to just enjoy on the court and we were also serving well. So we just continued doing that.”

Both teams brought in a lot of energy to start the first set, but Brazil were first to gain the lead as they reacted quickly on defence. Nathalie Filomena and Edwarda de Oliveira Dias were the main protagonists in the first set as they unleashed some tough swings from the attack line.

Canada struggled to get their game going and allowed their rivals to lead by eight points at the second technical timeout. At the score of 20-12, Brazil called a timeout to ensure that Canada could not stage any comeback, the short break worked well in their favour and closed the set at 25-14.

Canada benefitted from attack plays of their opponents as several balls were called out-of-bounds, but Brazil were quick to react and grabbed the lead against at 8-6. The succeeding plays featured a tough exchange of points, but the Canadians were favoured this time at the second technical timeout with a 16-14 edge.

Canada regained their composure increased their stretched their lead 18-15, and several defensive blunders by Brazil gave Canada set point. But Brazil made a strong comeback late in the second set and deadlocked at 24-all. Canada somehow managed to stay focused with an attack winner by Ellis and a service ace by Oakes sealed the win at 26-24.

With momentum on their side, Canada’s net defence was at its best as they blocked every ball that came their way to build a 14-7 advantage. The Brazilians managed to score a series of points to cut down the Canadian lead 15-12, then the former called for a timeout to regroup after a positioning fault stopped the game for some time.

The break provided the South American team a breather to find out a solution to stop their rivals, but Canada kept the pressure going with their strong serve to extend the lead 21-15. Brazil then made a 6-0 run that levelled the score at 21-all, and the remaining plays became a tightrope walk for both sides. At 24-all, a block by Jani on Peters and an attack by Pamela Pereira completed the Brazilian comeback.

Both teams refused to give in to the pressure, but Brazil were first to get out of the deadlock. The Brazilians once again showed their strong presence at the net and put on excellent defence against the Canadian hitters to lead 8-3.

Brazil doubled their output by the second technical timeout, but Canada only managed to score four points off the rallies. Brazil fired on all cylinders and dismantled the Canadian defence until Jani delivered the final blow to secure the bronze medal win for Brazil at 25-14.

“The strides that this team has made in the last five years has been incredible, so we’re going to see what we’re going to do in the next three. I don’t see any issue with it. We’re going to work hard. We’re ready to compete with the best teams in the world and we’re ready to become among the best teams in the world.” Canada captain Danielle Ellis said.