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Home News A theatrical tale of volleyball: A story of sport drama

A theatrical tale of volleyball: A story of sport drama

Summer Games 4 August 2023

Japan winning team in the end of the semi VS BrazilJapan after earning a trip to the gold medal final

Friday’s first women’s volleyball semifinal in Chengdu, between Brazil and Japan, provided one of the most amazing matches so far at these FISU World University Games..


Intensity, drama and extremely high-level performance from both sides generated an Olympic-style duel at the Xipu Campus Gymnasium.


And like every drama play filled with twisted plots, it needed a good scenario.


Act I: Opposing forces




While the two teams finish their warm-ups, the public announcer unveils the line-ups. The battle is already promising, for everything seems to set apart the two semi-finalists.


Japan vs Brazil Volleyball GameOn one side, the Brazilians are already locked in into their match by being the loudest possible. For most of them, like 26 year-old team captain Lyara Batista, this is the penultimate contest of their FISU Games journey as they will be over the age limit come Rhine-Ruhr 2025.


They already benefit from an exception. Because of the postponement of these Games, they are allowed to compete in Chengdu so they want to make the most of it.


On the other side of the net, the Japanese players are remarkably quiet. All of them are much younger, the oldest being only 23. Nonetheless, they are a collective force to fear, for they are the only team yet to concede a single set in the tournament.


The characters are set. The young versus the old. The new generation against the seasoned veterans going into their last battle. Exuberance versus modesty.


It is 17:31. The epic battle can start.


Act II: Samba-ck




Everyone in the stands now understands they are witnessing some serious high-level volleyball, starting from the initial whistle.


The first points of the match have displayed an incredible intensity from both teams, with several endless rallies and an ironclad fighting spirit.


Serves, attacks, blocks… Crazy points are scored one after the other. After several set points saved by Brazil, a spike by outside hitter Nakajima Sae gives Japan a 25-17 win.


But the experienced Brazilians are not down on themselves, and neither is the level of play during the second and third sets.


The Seleçao takes charge of the rhythm, as substitutes accompany every home service with a special Samba-kind applause. “Clap – clap clap – clap clap”.


The points keep coming, Paulista University student Camila Mesquita dos Santos’s power spikes find no opposition, and Brazil equalizes the showdown with a 25-19 win, before taking the lead thanks to another 25-19 victory in the third.


It is now 18:47. The level of play is still exceptional. The crowd is even louder than in the first set. And the  Xipu Campus Gymnasium stands are filling up, as fans prepare for China’s match in the second semi-final.


“This really is outstanding,” says a local spectator.


Act III: Deafening climax




How can they hit the ball this hard?


All players are now even more committed, and the sound of each attack is truly deafening. To add to the drama, tension emerges after a contested referee decision, and nerves are on edge from both sides.


Japan takes advantage of Brazil’s emotional vulnerability to level the game with a 25-15 win and force a decisive fifth set.


The crowd now fully takes part into the electric atmosphere and ultimately roars, after two hours of play, at 19:23, as Miyabe Ameze wraps up a 15-9 fifth-set decision for Japan with a final “monster block”.


The Japanese jump all around, while their South American opponents leave the court with tight jaws and tear-filled eyes, under a storm of applause.


“I think that reaction is a testament to the amazing defence on both sides of the floor, and to the greatness of the players tonight,” resumed Japan’s Kobayashi Angelina.


For the fourth FISU Games in a row, the Japanese women secured a medal in volleyball. They will try to win a title that has been escaping them since 1985 on Sunday against the host nation, impressively dominant over Poland in the second semi-final (3-0).


The Xipu Gymnasium crowd is already longing for the same drama Japan and Brazil provided during their semi.


Written by Louis Gilles, FISU Young Reporter