2005 FIVB WORLD GRAND PRIX

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Brazilian scalp leaves China on top with Cuba
 
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 3, 2005 – The match everyone had been waiting for in week two of the 2005 World Grand Prix Preliminary Round saw Olympic champions China at their sparkling best as they beat defending champions Brazil in an incredible straight sets victory (25-22, 25-21, 25-20) in Macau. The win marked China's sixth win in as many matches as the second round was completed on Sunday. Cuba sit with China on top of the 12-team table as the only two unbeaten sides after they beat Italy 3-1 (19-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-21).

China coach Chen Zhonge said he wanted a stylish win against Brazil and he got it. The number one team in the world was too quick and classy for world number two Brazil, handing the defending champions their first defeat of the tournament. It was a riveting display, one we are becoming accustomed to. No individual points scoring feats, just an all-round blend of teamwork and efficiency. The young Brazilian side had no answers. Following straight set victories over Poland (25-18, 25-13, 25-14) and Germany 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-15) earlier in the round, China have only lost one set all tournament – to the Netherlands in week one.

Brazil are now alone in third spot with a 5-1 win-loss record. They beat Poland 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-19) and Germany 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 26-24) earlier in the round.

Meanwhile, Cuba have been in equally impressive form after collecting three impressive victories in Manila. After beating Thailand 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-17) on the opening day, the Olympic bronze medalists had to pull out all their reserves to beat the Netherlands 3-2 (25-20, 19-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13) before beating last year’s runner’s up Italy.

The Netherlands moved into fifth place with a 4-2 record, just behind Japan on points ratio after collecting two victories - 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-21) over Italy and 3-0 (25-9, 25-16, 25-22) against Thailand. The young Italian side had a weekend they would prefer not to remember losing two of their three matches. Their only comfort a 3-0 (25-12, 25-10, 25-18) win over Thailand.

In Seoul, Japan had been in sensational form before losing to world number three USA on Sunday. The final round hosts had been outstanding in beating Dominican Republic 3-0 (27-25, 25-22, 25-17) and Korea 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-13) before tripping up against last year’s bronze medalists 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 21-25, 29-27).

It’s a welcome win for the young USA side and their new coach Jenny Lang Ping. After three defeats in their four opening matches – including a surprise 3-2 (25-23, 13-25, 21-25, 25-15, 15-13) loss to Korea on the opening day in Seoul - the Americans have picked up two important victories against the Dominican Republic 3-2 (23-25, 23-25, 25-14, 25-16, 15-6) and Japan to stay just outside the top six with a 3-3 record, just behind sixth placed Italy on points ratio.

The weekend also marked a significant first for Korea. They picked up their first two wins of the tournament – against USA and 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-15) over the Dominican Republic – in front of their home crowd in Seoul. Meanwhile Poland and Germany fought out a 3-2 (22-25, 25-18, 26-24, 18-25, 15-11) marathon to see Germany drop from eighth to 10th in the standings.

Current standings after three matches: 1) China 2) Cuba 3) Brazil 4) Japan 5) Netherlands 6) Italy 7) USA 8) Korea 9) Poland 10) Germany 11) Dominican Republic 12) Thailand

After three weeks of Preliminary Round action, the top six teams will enter the Final Round in Japan to play for the honour of 2005 World Grand Prix champion.