Brazil is the champion of Final Four and ends 2008 with three golds

FORTALEZA, Brazil, September 8, 2008.- Once again Brazil climbed to the highest step of the podium. Supported by partisan fans who crowded the Paolo Serasate Gymnasium in the capital of Cearaa, the Brazilians defeated the Dominican Republic in the last match of the Final Four by score of 3-0, with the sets finishing 25-21, 25-17 and 25-18 in 1 hour and 17 minutes.


The match was historic: It was the farewell to a symbol of the generation of the Brazilian Selection, the setter and captain Fofao. In her match 340 with the shirt of the national team, said good bye with another gold medal on her chest. In her brilliant career, she won two olympic medals -gold (Beijing 2008) and bronze (Atlanta 96)- two in world championships -silver (in 94 and 2006)- and nine in the Grand Prix -six gold (94, 96, 98, 2004, 2006 and 2008), two silver (95 and 99) and one bronze (2000).


The first edition of the Final Four, a competition organized by the Volleyball Pan American Union, was the reencounter of the Brazilian players after the Beijing medal. But from the first set, they showed to have recovered the game rhythm closing it with a block by Sheila 25-21.


Very concentrated, the Brazilians continued dictating the pace of the match just off the start of the second set. The Dominicans could not mark the variety and velocityof the Brazilian attackers. With calm, the team coached by Ze Roberto scored a 25-17 with a spike by Mari.


With the Brazilian blocking defending well the Dominican players, the attackers had more ease in putting the ball in the floor in the counter attacks. Playing with joy, the Olympic champions lectured a class of volleyball in the final stretch. Brazil reached the match point at 24-15, but destiny seemed to want Fofao more time on court. The Dominicans scored thtee consecutive points. Ze Roberto called for a time-out, but could not speak, he was crying. The leader Fofao is the one who gives the latest instructions.


The group goes back to court. After an opponent point, Mari receives the serve and with mastery, Fofao sets and Sheila scores the 25-18. The end of the match generated one only cry from the crowd: “Fofao does not go.” A long and close hug and a fraternal kiss sealed the farewell of coach Ze Roberto. He was the coach who transforned the former attacker into a setter, followed her steps during her long and victorious career and became a real friend.


Without words, Fofao could not avoid the tears. “I thank to God for giving me the opportunity of defending Brazil and to reach this moment. I am very happy,” said the 38 years-old setter.


And the moment will be forever in the memory of the player who received one standing ovation from the Brazilian fans. “I am happy because after so many years with the selection, to have this farewell in Brazil, before our fans. This moment will be in my mind for the rest of my life,”said Fofao.


Final positions of 2008 Final Four: 1. Brazil, 2. Dominican Republic, 3. Argentina, 4. Cuba.


Best Players: Best attacker: Bethania de la Cruz (DOM), Best Blocker: Fabiana Claudino (BRA), Best Server: Yanelis Santos /CUB), Best Receiver: Fabiana Oiiveira, Best Setter: Helia “Fofao” Souza (BRA), Best Defender: Lucia Gaido (ARG), Best Libero: Fabiana Oliveira (BRA). Best Scorer: Bethania de la Cruz (DOM), Most Valuable Player: Helia Souza (BRA). Rising Star: Brenda Castillo (DOM).


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