Savichev helps RPC get shot at Paralympic gold

Aleksandr Savichev’s 30-point performance proved RPC worthy of an appearance in the gold medal match for the first time, as he helped beat Brazil 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-19) in the semifinals of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games men’s sitting volleyball tournament at Makuhari Messe Hall A on Thursday.

RPC will play in a Paralympic Games gold medal match for the first time in their history. They previously won a bronze medal at Beijing 2008, then made an appearance London 2012’s bronze medal match but lost to Germany in five sets.

Outside hitter Savichev, also RPC’s captain, had an all-around performance scoring 19 attacks, five blocks and six aces, then Viktor Melenin added 17 points in the four-set win.

“The whole team spirit changed the game. We meant to support each other, to control our emotions, and give out positive emotions and lift our spirits. We should do our best and train as usual for the final,” Milenin said.

Brazil counted on the offence of Gilberto Lourenco da Silva who played a solid performance on offence, scoring 17 of his 19-point total from the attack line and the two points from blocks. Wescley Conceicao de Oliveira and Anderson Rodrigues dos Santos had 11 points each.

A tight encounter ensued between the two teams, as Brazil’s fiery game battled RPC’s clinical effectiveness in the opening set. RPC succeeded to gain the edge, but Wellington Platini Silva kept pressuring the RPC defenders with his serve then Savichev responded with his strong serves.

Brazil led 16-14 and utilized all the tricks in the book to keep the advantage. The South Americans then put more pressure and utilized the opposition’s block to score more points, eventually breaking the RPC defence to win the set 25-22.

RPC recouped and increased the pressure on their serves to take an early lead. And as they kept their game consistent and their serve strong, RPC took a six-point lead. Brazil tried to get back in the game, but Milenin found the seams on their defence and drilled three spikes down. The Brazilians seemed to have lost their focus and committed errors that gave RPC a 20-16 advantage. RPC’s block-defence was on point towards the end and helped them win the second set 25-21.

RPC carried their momentum to the next set as they started with an 8-4 lead. Savichev’s strong serve kept RPC going as he disrupted the Brazilian defence at the net and at the back. RPC made some fantastic saves in the set that powered them to secure another set victory at 25-19.

The fourth set had an intense start from RPC as they were keen to keep the momentum. They had a five-point lead (11-6) off their clever plays to outsmart their opponents to extend the lead to 18-12. At this point, RPC responded to every point that Brazil scored, until they reached the end of the set 25-19 to earn the first ticket to the Paralympic final. Savichev scored 11 points in the fourth set.

Brazil have appeared in four consecutive editions of the Paralympic Games since 2008 and have since improved their finishes from sixth at Beijing 2008, fifth at London 2012, fourth at Rio 2016 after losing to Egypt in the fifth set.

“I believe we did everything that we could today. RPC were better as their servers were good. We could not pass a lot of their serves and they played better than us. We’re going to be aggressive again and we are going to do everything to win the (bronze) medal,” Brazil’s Fabricio da Silva Pinto said.

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