Germany’s volleyball players have significantly increased their chances of direct Olympic qualification with two sensational victories.

The team around star attacker Georg Grozer beat world champion Italy 3-1 (26:24, 18:25, 25:20, 25:23) at the qualifying tournament in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours earlier, the Germans had also defeated hosts and favorites Brazil 3-1 (21:25, 25:19, 25:19, 28:26).

The selection of the German Volleyball Association started the qualification tournament with four wins and has excellent prospects of one of the first two places in the group, which will bring them the Olympic ticket.

Grozer towers over

The 38-year-old Grozer, who returned to the team especially for the chance of Germany’s first Olympic participation since 2012, was the outstanding player in both games despite the short recovery time. He scored 27 points against the South Americans and even 31 against Italy.

“I have goosebumps, I can’t believe what we did here today,” he said after the game against Brazil. “We can’t celebrate yet, we still have a long way to go.”

The German team will face the Czech Republic in their next game early on Saturday morning German time (1.30 a.m./VBTV). The team will be without captain Lukas Kampa, who is out for the rest of the tournament due to a calf injury.

All teams play against each other once in three groups of eight in Brazil, China and Japan. The top two teams in each group will receive tickets to Paris 2024.

Every game in Rio counts for another reason: points are awarded for the world rankings, which offer one last chance at the Olympics next year. Here too, Germany made up a lot of ground with their surprising victories in case direct qualification doesn’t work out.