Japan Suffers Big Blow With Loss of Injured Moriyama
Saitama, Japan, 12 November, 2001 - Host nation Japan
arrived in Saitama for the opening round of the US$2
million World Grand Champions Cup with the news that its
key attacker, Junko Moriyama, has not recovered from
injury and will not be starting in its opening match
against Olympic bronze medallists Brazil on Tuesday.
Moriyama injured her right ankle during a practice in
September. The young and inexperienced Japanese team is
expected to struggle without the power and experience of
the 26-year-old 1.80m spiker.
"She got a serious injury on her right ankle and
could not even walk during the first 3-4 weeks,"
said team manager Akihiko Narita.
"She had a good recovery, but still cannot
compete for the tournament." Moriyama led the
Japanese team for a sixth place in the World Grand Prix
in Macao last month, but didn't travel with the team to
Saitama though she is listed on the register list.
However, the young squad believes it is ready to make
amend of Moriyama's absence. "Some of our younger
players are growing up fast, like Ai Otomo (19), Sachiko
Sugiyama (22) and Makiko Horai (22), and could take on
Moriyama's position," Narita added. "I admit
most of my players lack international experience, except
for the Asian Cup where we finished fourth, but we have
a good developing young team." Japan has failed to
make any podium finishes in world competition since its
bronze medal at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, a
record it desperately wants to correct at this years
most important tournament. "We're young, energetic
and powerful, so we're not afraid of anything. I don't
give much pressure of expectations to the team. Let's
see what the Japanese will work out in the
tournament," Narita said.
Sydney Olympic silver medallist Russia and 2001 World
Grand Prix champions, USA, lead the field for this years
World Grand Champions Cup that features the four top
continental champions: Asian Champion China, European
Champion Russia, NORCECA Champion USA, South American
Champion Brazil, plus Korea as wild card and Japan as
Saitama is the venue of the first two rounds on
Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 November. Thursday 15 is a
rest day with the final two days to be held in Fukuoka
on Friday 16 and Sunday 18 November.
The men's event will start on Tuesday 20 November in
Nagoya. European and Olympic Champion Yugoslavia is one
of the six participants, together with Japan, Korea,
Cuba, Brazil and Argentina.
Offering US$2 million in prize money, the World Grand
Champions Cup holds an important position on
volleyball's international calendar. Held between the
Olympic Games and the World Championships, it is the
most important volleyball event of 2001.
Russia ready to defend title 2001
World Grand Champions Cup
Saitama, Japan, 13 November, 2001 - European women's
volleyball Champion Russia will face Asian's best China
on the opening day of the World Grand Champions Cup in
Saitama Japan this Tuesday.
Nikolai Karpol's squad is one of the six participants
in the World Grand Champions Cup that features the four
top continental champions: Asian Champion China,
European Champion Russia, NORCECA Champion USA, South
American Champion Brazil, plus Korea as wild card and
Japan as Host nation.
Russia has a good chance to clinch a high ranked
position during this six teams single round robin
competition, but due to the unpredictable nature of a
single round robin, and the level of all participating
teams, it is hard to pick a real favourite.
The Russian girls won the Olympic silver medal in
Sydney last September, but they have not won a major
event since the 1997 World Grand Champions Cup. And they
will have to overcome USA, who won the 2001 World Grand
Prix in August, and defeated Cuba to win the NORCECA
championship last month. Russia will meet USA on
Saturday 17 November in Fukuoka.
South American Champion and Olympic bronze medallist
Brazil is also one of the strong contenders during this
event. The team of the former Italian head-coach Marco
Motta is always a dangerous opponent.
The other three opponents are the top three squads of
Asia: China, Korea and Japan.
A young and inexperienced Chinese team surprised all
by defeating Olympic champion Cuba twice (3-1 and 3-0),
and Olympic bronze medallist Brazil twice (3-1 and 3-2)
at the 2001 World Grand Prix, only going down in the
final to USA. Japan will be without its key attacker
Junko Moriyama, who has not recovered from an ankle
injury, and Korea should have a hard time against the
stronger and taller teams of Russia, Brazil and USA.