PictureReally blew that one.
Down the steep stairs, as if we were about to run out of the coliseum, we lurked from the shadows of the tunnel  onto the court, the cheers echoing off the dome and as I turned to see the whole crowd I knew we were in for an amazing night.

When we walked out a hour prior to first serve, half the gym was full, by the time hitting warm ups began, there wasn't an empty seat to be found. Already dripping in sweat, I was ready for the game, well almost... I figured it would be a great time to use the bathroom and officially get all the nerves out. Unfortunately for the only guy on the team that doesn't speak Portuguese, the team was scheduled to take a team picture. Which of course I found later that night on my teammate's Instagram. So I'm 0-1 on making the pre match team picture but I didn't know at the time and as I came back I was ready to get the match underway.

It was a great early matchup for us against Canoas who was coming off an easy 3-1 victory in their first math of the year. Lead by one of the most dominant Brazilian middles ever, Gustavo and one of the emerging talents at the setting position for Brazil, Murillo. The nerves were apparent as 4 of the first 6 points came from missed serves. With the crowd getting anxious, both teams slowed down the tempo, grooving the serves, leading to a sideout battle back and forth leading into the end of the set (Brazilian Super League is playing to 21 this year) we made the sub for our 2nd setter, Thiago Gellinski as a serving sub and he came up big, digging their opposite down the line as we converted a long overdue real point. A quick timeout followed as they went back to their opposite, this time trying his luck cross court. As if he was playing on the AVP, Quiroga was waiting and dove with everything he had at the last second closing the first set and sending every fan in the gym onto their feet with a clutch stuff.

With the momentum of the first set as well as the confidence stemming from our fans we got on a roll early in the second set. Lorena (our opposite) had his way, sending balls off the hands into the crowd, slicing balls down the line and getting the crowd involved after each huge rally. Once again, Thiago came late into the set and was able to run off a couple more points, making a timely dig in area one, placing a ball perfectly to me where I was able to jump the 3 meter line and let Quiroga go high off the block. Everything was going right and even when it wasn't our composure lead to a quick sideout.

The 3rd game went by a flash, having Ricardinho as our setter, we were able to dictate the game with our counter attack, early and often. Anything dug  3-6 meters off the net and with enough height is usually perfect for him, having every option our team was relentless and made the most of every defensive effort. It still wasn't enough in my eyes so determined on getting the next point or moving on to the next ball, I never stopped to realize the pace of the game, until it was 20-13 and match point for the good guys. I was able to take a break from my determined focus share a smile with the fans in attendance as they rose to their feet once again.


We got point number 21 and we were able to share our home opener with the crowd in grand fashion as we swept Canoas 3-0. It was a special moment to share with the fans, the city and of course my teammates. The first of many, while I know it will be a long season I know we will be ready for the challenges and battles that await us. I for one, can't wait.
 


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