Volleyball: Brazil shows its strength in women's open

Playing together for the first time on Tuesday morning seemed to be a trend among the opening matches of the Maccabiah volleyball open division at Bar-Lev Hall in Kfar Saba. Team Brazil won the status as team to watch in the women's open competition with a 25-6, 25-4, and 25- 6 win over Italy, while Team USA claimed victory over scrappy, but solid team Canada in a 25-17, 25-23, 25-21 sweep in the men's section. Star setter and captain of Team USA Matt Susson was happy with the win. "We started off getting set up, but it felt good to get rhythm. This was the first time we played a match as a team," he said. Team USA had a strong defensive and offensive performance Tuesday on the court and head coach Alan Segal was delighted. "We only have seven practices prior to this match, so it was a great match for us." Rarely letting the volleyball hit the ground, Canada's scrappy play won the majority of its points along with strong net play and coverage of its hitters. Defensively, Canada had no problem. But offense was another story. Josh Boruck, a strong right side hitter for Canada with over a dozen kills throughout the match said, "We were not doing good running offense in the first set and a half." Boruck stated that Canada "lacked closing power," but, "It was good considering we only played for a week together." In the women's competition Brazil's captain and outside hitter Daniele Gonik was satisfied with the teamwork displayed by her teammates. "We did not have a chance to play all together in Brazil and this was our first time all together here in Israel," she said. With incredible teamwork, majority of the players contributed a minimum of one kill on team Brazil, while Italian opponents struggled throughout the entire match. Brazil's middle hitter, Vanessa Valansi, whom has played volleyball for twenty years, said, "We are now together, playing with five girls from Rio de Janero and five girls from San Paulo." Italy, a more junior team, put up a fight at the foot of the third game, until Brazil's captain Gonik put Brazil back in the lead with a serving run. Coach David Perugia of team Italia said: "The girls are here for participation, and it is a great experience for them."