22 Olympic medallists, 32 Olympic medals. One of the most exciting volleyball experiences in the world is about to start, with first serve at 7.30pm on 27th September. The Brazilian Women’s Volleyball League, named Superliga, will put on an extraordinary event and expand to 14 teams from 5 different states of Brazil and one from the federal capital, 4 more than in last year’s edition. Five of them are looking good for a shot at the title.


The favourites
Unilever and Molico/Nestlé, the title-holder and the current runner-up respectively, have won the last 9 championships. Both teams remain strong.

Unilever retained a bunch of good players and signed with the serbian Brankica Mihajlovic, awarded the best wing-spiker at the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix, which means the back line of the team blends the experience of Fabi (33), who won two Olympic gold medals, with the silver lining of the volleyball future when it comes to talent, Mihajlovic (22) and Gabi (19). The latter is a brilliant young all-around player. As a matter of fact, she was the sole player among top 8 ranked athletes in the stats for scorers (7th), spikers (8th), blockers (5th), servers (6th), receivers (4th) and diggers (5th) at the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals.
Sarah Pavan and Juciely, 3rd best scorer and best blocker last season respectively, and Valeskinha, major block scorer in Superliga history, complete the squad. The harmony and teamwork are carefully orchestrated by Fofão. Moreover, the coach in charge of Unilever is Bernardinho, who led Brazilian national teams to 5 Olympic medals and 3 World Championships.
With all these prospects, the defending champions are undoubtedly one of the brightest contenders to clinch the title.

Molico/Nestlé has signed with two foreigners, Caterina Bosetti and Sanja Malagurski, in order to fill the absence of Jaqueline and Fernanda Garay, trying hard to achieve the same success they had two years ago with Hooker, when the team won their last crown.
First time in Superliga, nothing to fear. Among teammates the foreigners will find Brazilian volleyball star Sheilla Castro, the new captain of the team, and Thaisa Menezes, MVP at the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix.
Molico/Nestlé’s line-up also includes the talent of Camila Brait (libero), the fighting spirit of Adenízia (middle-blocker) and Fabíola, the main Brazilian national team setter at the 2010 World Championship.
A strong middle-blocker duo, a world-class opposite, two promising foreigners and lot of good players under the guidance of Luizomar de Moura, youth Brazilian national team head coach, are the weapons Molico/Nestlé will carry to fight for the title.

After being 3rd last season, Vôlei Amil emerges as a prime candidate for dethroning Unilever-Molico/Nestlé mastery over the years. They are already a volleyball force to be reckoned with. The head coach, José Roberto Guimarães, who led Brazilian national team to three Olympic gold medals, set up a competitive group. He transferred Tandara, best scorer of Superliga 2012/2013, from Sesi-SP and Natália, one of the most important players in the final last year, from rivals Unilever. The team is still composed of the captain and gold medallist at the Beijing Olympic Games Walewska, Carol Gattaz and Michelle, a good digger. The foreign player of the team is the american winger-spiker Kristin Hildebrand.
The target is to level the playing field and won the championship.

Sesi-SP and Banana Boat/Praia Clube also are among the favourites. The latter is one of the most consistent teams in recent years and has good options for opposite and wing-spiker positions. The strength of Herrera and Mari combined with the technical skills of the twin sisters Monique and Michelle is going to form a solid attack system. According to experts, Juliana Carrijo is one of the most promising Brazilian setters. The libero Tássia, 2nd best receiver last year, should help them out to sustain the amazing teamwork they have showed up many times in the past competitions.
Sesi-SP roster could make a difference. The team has 2 or more good players for all positions. Its large budget allows that. Maybe not the best line-up, but for sure the best substitutes of the competition. It’s possible to maintain high standards every time.
Both teams are in a good mood to reach the finals.

The competition features 14 teams from 5 different states of Brazil and one from the federal capital. 4 teams will join Superliga for the first time.

Among the newcomers, Brasília Vôlei seems to be a new force. The team signed with experienced players to handle the situation of being an inexperienced team. They are composed of Érika Coimbra and Elisângela, both bronze medallists at the 2000 Olympic Games, Paula Pequeno, gold medallist in the last two Olympics, Dani Scott, silver medallist in Beijing and London, and other veterans like Camila Adão (setter) and Verê (libero). They are indeed a respected team.

Maranhão Vôlei/CTGM are looking good for a first experience in the most prestigious Brazilian volleyball league. The team have been 3rd in the U23 National League and hired some interesting players like Edneia, the argentinian setter Yael Castiglione and Liz Hintemann. It’s the first time the state of Maranhão joins the competition.

Moreover, Brasília Vôlei and Maranhão Vôlei/CTGM have something in common that’s important to figure out. The presence of these clubs is extending the range of Superliga throughout another territories. It’s an alternative to São Paulo-Rio-Minas hub.The development of Brazilian volleyball depends on it. A volleyball programme will increase the participation of children in this sport and provide new talents for the country.

Uniara/AFAV is a college team and one of the few initiatives on matter of this in Brazil. It’s another way to see sports. American experience proved many teams how could a partnership between sports and colleges be successful. It makes Uniara/Afav a very interesting team. The head coach is the sole woman to coach at Superliga. The staff also is composed of women in the vast majority. Remarkable fact.

Barueri was one of the latest teams to be added to the Superliga. The players were facing hard financial issues in order to register the team in the competition. They were training in another city for two months straight when they found out the team still didn’t have a sponsorship and couldn’t pay them. Players resorted to help and have found another city to play. Issues settled, they are able to fight for a spot at the quater-finals.

Traditional teams
EC Pinheiros, Minas Tênis Clube, São Bernardo Vôlei and São Cristóvão Saúde/São Caetano are the main Brazilian former clubs. The role these teams play in Brazilian volleyball history is worthy of note. A large number of volleyball stars have passed into these teams.

After an atonishing performance last season, Pinheiros had dawned as a serious candidate to surprise again. Under the guidance of Wagner Coppini Fernandes, second assistant coach of the Brazilian national team, they maintained their best players and added some others. Last year, Pinheiros had wondrously defeated Osasco in straight sets whose roster had 6 Brazilian national team players. It’s a promising team.

When it comes to tradition, Minas Tênis Clube should be reckoned with. Nowadays Minas try to build a good roster on a tight budget. Not an easy task.
In order to boost the line-up, the team have signed with the americans Alaina Bergsma and Lynda Morales recently. With São Bernardo Vôlei and São Cristóvão Saúde/São Caetano, they will try hard to fight for a spot in the quater-finals. The same goes for Rio do Sul.

The participating teams
Banana Boat/Praia Clube
Brasília Vôlei
EC Pinheiros
Maranhão Vôlei/CTGM
Minas Tênis Clube
Rio do Sul
São Bernardo Vôlei
São Cristóvão Saúde/São Caetano
Vôlei Amil

Day 1/September 27
7.30pm Minas Tênis Clube X EC Pinheiros
7.30pm Barueri X Brasília Vôlei
9.30pm Molico/Nestlé X Maranhão Vôlei