Gabi and Adenizia leave the court in tears after Brazil crashed out of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 17, 2016 - When China's Zhu Ting hit the last ball of the game off the hands of Natalia and out of bounds, a dead silence of disbelief fell over the otherwise raucus Maracanazinho.
One could almost hear the sobbing of Jaque, practically see the swollen red eyes of Juciely, feel the silent pain of Sheilla. Even Gabi, usually the joyful smiling image of the team, was barely holding back the tears.The pain is huge, the victory didn't come, but there was no lack of fight.
Brazil crashed out of the tournament of their dreams, their home Olympics, in front of their own fans. It was meant to be a pinnacle in their careers as they headed towards a third straight gold - a feat achieved only by Cuba in the 1990s.
For most of the players these were the last Olympic Games -indeed maybe their last appearance with the national team or on any volleyball court.Jaque sobs after Brazil lose to China at Rio 2016 quarterfinals.
Jaque, Sheilla, Fabiana and Thaisa were all going for their third gold, having previously lifted Brazil to Olympic glory in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
"It was not the way I wanted to leave," said 33-year-old Sheilla.
Ze Roberto, the 62-year-old coach of seven Olympiads (one as player), was hoping to usurp legendary Nikolay Karpol as the coach with most Olympic gold medals to his name.
It was not be.Coach Ze Roberto tries to console 6-year-old grandson Felipe after Brazil get knocked out of the Rio 2016 medals round.
Ze Roberto was too emotionally drained to speak about the the way ahead after the game with China. "Honestly I do not know," he said. "It was a beautiful and unique emotion, but I am too sad at the moment to talk about the future."
But still, life must go on. "I still believe in the power of my dreams and I will continue fighting for them," mentioned Gabi, the morning after.
A few hardy fans stayed on at the Maracanazinho, late into the Rio night, for one last standing ovation as players and staff reluctantly made their way to mixed zone and the post-match press conference. After all, this was the team that had touched Brazilian hearts and brought the country countless moments of honour, glory and joy. They deserved at least as much.
And regardless of how things turned out Tuesday night in Rio, they'll always have a special place in every volleyball fan's heart.Quick links - Women's Quarterfinals - Tuesday, August 16: