Olympic Games, quarter-finals. Six match points to the opponent. Brazil was almost getting back home without any place on the podium. In such hard moment, a woman was Brazilian game on. Saving five match points alone from every single side of the court, she led Brazil to the victory. Four days after that thriller, the Brazilian women’s volleyball team was climbing the top place in the world. The golden hero on this day is Sheilla Tavares de Castro, gold medalist at Beijing and London.
Sheilla Castro (July 1, 1983) was born in Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais. She decided on volleyball, mainly because of height, but the interest in the sport raised quickly as well as her skills.
When she was 14, Sheilla was invited to join the Minas Gerais volleyball team, after first season playing for Mackenzie.
From 2001 to 2004, she was with MRV/Minas where she won her first Superleague. She also played for Scalavoni/Pesaro (2004-2008), São Caetano/Blausiegel (2008-2010), Unilever (2010-2012) and Sollys (2012-2013).
In 2002, the opposite was selected for the Brazilian national team. With Sheilla as opposite, Brazil won 2 Olympic Games (2008 and 2012), 5 World Grand Prix (2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2013), 1 Grand Champions Cup (2005), 5 South American Championship (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013), 1 Pan American Games (2011), 2 Pan American Cup (2009 and 2011) and 3 Montreux Volley Masters (2005, 2006 and 2009).
The new captain of Molico/Nestlé
In the absence of Jaqueline, Sheilla has assumed the leadership of the team. She is the most experienced player and is able to lead the way to the championship. In fact, the last time she won Brazilian Superleague (2010/2011) Sheilla was named the most valuable player, best scorer and best spiker of the competition, scoring 19 points (13 kills, 5 blocks and 1 ace) at the final.
She usually appears also amongst best diggers and was named best serve twice in Superliga, the same award she won at the London Olympic Games.
Sheilla: ‘I’m glad the staff relies on me to be the captain. I guess it won’t change too much the responsibilities I already had as a player. Maybe it’ll only add some bureaucratic tasks.’
Bernardo Rezende: ‘In my opinion, Sheilla is an extraordinary athlete. A woman that deserves all awards she’s got. The way she gives herself over to volleyball, her devotion to the sport and how she plays for the team. She is a star that shines for the team. One of the greatest pleasures in my recent years was the opportunity of working with her, because she gives her best to everybody without focusing things on her.’
Zé Roberto Guimarães: ‘In my opinion, Sheilla is complete in every sense. I think it’s also interesting to stress her as a person. She is very important to the group, highly intelligent, sensible and friendly towards everyone. She is always watching out for the team.’
Gabi (Brazilian new star): ‘I already played the last World Grand Prix with the senior national team but it’s always a big challenge for me because I want to play well. There I had the opportunity to play with one of my heroes, Sheilla Castro. I like how she can change the hit every time depending on the situation, she has such great abilities, and she is a wonderful person.’
An accurate hitter
When the question is scoring points, the names coming up in conversation usually are Gamova, Brakocevic, Calderón, Hooker or other opposites in the world. Few people would think Sheilla. Perhaps for two reasons: Brazilian play and her style.
The first issue is noticeable watching a Brazilian game. Everybody plays and is able to spike. Middle-blockers are always on fire and we can also say the same about wing-spikers. The game isn’t concentrated in one hitter or two and it seems anybody is getting many points there like teams with only one or two reliable hitters that are showing up every moment.
The second is due to her own style. She is a very skilled spiker not using strength and physical condition to score all time. Strong spikers are usually more visible. Sheilla has all kinds of shots and hitting abilities. She uses tip a lot. Sometimes it seems she has a beach volleyball player inside her.
Anyway, the Brazilian opposite plays an important role for her team, specially scoring points, more than is often said.
In order to clear up this, we organized a head-to-head between her and one of the most impressive hitters in history, the russian Ekaterina Gamova.
We’ll use the official matches both filled the line-ups of their respective national teams against each other.
World Grand Prix
2003: Preliminary round – Sheilla (6, not found)/Gamova (24, 18/29 = 62,06%)
2006: Final round (Group B) – Sheilla (15, 11/17 = 64,70%)/Gamova (13, 10/21 = 47,61%)
Final round (Final) – Sheilla (22, 16/30 = 53,33%)/Gamova (18, 16/38 = 42,10%)
2007: Final round – Sheilla (13, 11/33 = 33,33%)/Gamova (19, 15/43 = 34,88%)
2009: Final round – Sheilla (28, 23/42 = 54,76%)/Gamova (24, 21/50 = 42%)
2011: Final round (Semi-final) – Sheilla (12, 11/22 = 50%)/Gamova (17, 16/39 = 41,02%)
2006: Second round (Pool F) – Sheilla (20, 16/40 = 40%)/Gamova (11, 10/36 = 27,77%)
Final round (Final) – Sheilla (22, 20/41 = 48,78%)/Gamova (28, 24/51 = 47,05%)
2010: Final round (Final) – Sheilla (26, 23/46 = 50%)/Gamova (35, 29/53 = 54,71%)
2008: Preliminary round (Pool B) – Sheilla (11, 10/21 = 47,61%)/Gamova (10, 8/29 = 27,58%)
2012: Quater-final – Sheilla (27, 23/54 = 42,59%)/Gamova (25, 22/58 = 37,93%)
Total (11 matches)
Best scorer: Sheilla (6)/Gamova (5)
Best spiker: Sheilla (8)/Gamova (3)