Tiffany Abreu is one of the best players in Brazil's women's volleyball SuperLiga, but a championship has eluded her. | Osasco Voleibol Clube

For professional volleyball star Tifanny Abreu, the Brazil Women’s Superliga’s first transgender player and 2021 Outsports pro athlete Triumph Award winner, April has been the cruelest month throughout her career.

Three times she has appeared in the Superliga playoff semifinals, twice with her current club, Osasco São Christovão. Her season has ended at this stage each time.

Monday night, Osasco opened the semifinal at home against a Minas team that swept them out of the playoffs last year. Unlike the two regular season meetings Osasco dominated this season, and despite 14 kills by Abreu, Minas took home a win in 4 sets at 25-20, 25-18, 20-25 and 25-20.

Game two is set for Friday night on Minas’ home grounds in Belo Horizonte. A win would force a deciding game three back in Osasco with the winner heading to the Superliga championship final series.

The drive to a championship is what brought the trailblazing Abreu together with an Osasco club looking to end a 10-year title drought. In the 2021-2022 season, she opened the year by leading the team to the Sao Paulo state championship. They lost in the Superliga playoff quarterfinals.

Last season, Abreu lead the league in scoring with 491 points. It also ended with a disappointment on the court, with the playoff loss to Minas. Along with other deserving teammates, she was overlooked by the end-of-season league awards.

The offseason faced questions of if she would play and where. They were answered quickly when she signed on to stay at Osasco and on a podcast prior to the start of the season, and the 39-year-old attacker/blocker said retirement wasn’t a thought.

“As long as I can pay the bills, I’ll keeping playing,” Abreu quipped on Pod Papoz Podcast last November. “There’s no age to retirement. There are people playing volleyball who peak at 17 and some who are playing their best volleyball after 30.”

This season, the emergence of young teammates has taken some of the load off of the veteran on the frontline. Former University of Texas All-American and Team USA hitter/blocker Brionne Butler had the best hitting percentage in the Superliga. Brazil national team outside hitter Loranne Teixeira was another huge addition.

Abreu was still consistent and strong. Her 439 points was second-best in the entire league. She was third in points per set at 4.7 and still had a formidable .450 hitting percentage.

She also lead a team that turned a rough 3-4 start to the season into a torrid 12-game win streak. After a dominant win in mid-January, a confident Abreu told the Brazilian volleyball website WebVôlei, “We understand that we have the conditions to reach the final and win the Superliga. We are going game after game as a team unified to win.”

To extend their change to make good on that statement, Osasco will have go on the road and win Friday.