2005 FIVB WORLD GRAND PRIX

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Pequeno peaks for Brazil

Sendai, Japan, July 18, 2005 - What a day for Paula Pequeno! First, the 23-year-old Brazilian helped her team beat Italy 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 27-29, 15-7) and win the World Grand Prix title for a fifth time. Then, at the end of the 15-game, six-team Final Round, she was named the Most Valuable Player.

No one could argue with that decision, as she had played a key role in Brazil's impressive march to the championship.
Pic: Paula Pequeno receives
Although Brazil, the defending World Grand Prix champions, wasted three match points in a tense fourth set, they dominated the decider. Fittingly enough it was Pequeno who notched the last two points to spark wild celebrations in the Canaries' camp.

Brazil finished with a 4-1 win-loss record to take home the US$200,000 first prize.

"This victory is huge for us," said Brazil's head coach, Jose Guimaraes. "We need more experience and welcome more difficult international games like this."

Italy's Marco Bonitta was gracious in defeat.

"The result proved that Brazil is a better team than Italy. They deserved to win," he said.

In the other games on Monday, Cuba clicked to beat the Netherlands 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20), and Olympic champions China were much too powerful for Japan, taming a frenzied home crowd with a 3-0 victory (25-23, 25-22, 25-23) in the evening encounter.

China have now beaten Japan in their last 13 meetings, including the Athens Olympics quarter-finals, and Japan's last win against their Asian rivals was in June 2002.

Brazil finished on top, followed by Italy (3-2), China (3-2), Cuba (3-2), Japan (1-4) and the Netherlands (1-4), and their victory completed a golden double in 2005 after their men's team won the World League title in Belgrade earlier this month.