2005 FIVB WORLD GRAND PRIX

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Fantastic opening clash in Final Round

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 11, 2005 – Two of the most exhilarating sides in women’s Volleyball – China and Cuba - will set the 2005 World Grand Prix Final Round alight when they play the opening match of the finals on Wednesday 02:35 GMT (11:35 local time) in Sendai, Japan.

Olympic champions and World Cup holders China, who are ranked number one in the world, finished top of the Preliminary Round with eight victories and one defeat (at the hands of Italy in their final match) while world number five Cuba, who collected bronze at the Athens Games, finished with a similar record (losing their final match to Brazil) but finished third on point ratio difference.

Both play with wonderful grace and artistry and the individual match ups are mouth watering. None more so than between Cuba captain Yumilka Ruiz, who has led her young and athletic side superbly during this tournament and Kun Feng, who pulls all the strings as setter and skipper in a strong Chinese attack.
Pic: Yumilka Ruiz - The heart and soul of Cuba women's Volleyball
China played Cuba twice at the 2004 Olympics with Cuba winning the round robin match 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 15-25, 25-21, 15-13) before China reversed the result in the semifinals, winning 3-2 (25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 23-25, 15-10).

The draw for the Final Round, which consists of six teams, was confirmed on Monday with each team playing each other in a round robin format from Wednesday through to Monday with Friday being a rest day.

The other matches on the opening day see the Netherlands (who had a 5-4 win-loss record) play Brazil (8-1) at 05:05 GMT (14:05 local time) followed by Italy (6-3) playing Japan (6-3) at 09:00 GMT (18:00 local time).

The only rematch from the Preliminary Round is in the Netherlands v Brazil match up, which Brazil won 3-1 (25-27, 25-19, 25-21, 25-17) on the final weekend in Taipei.