Lausanne, June 22, 2008 - The first leg of the 2008 FIVB World Grand Prix saw China and Italy emerge as the best teams, both winning all three matches at home in Ningbo and Alassio, respectively. Pool A in Kobe, Japan, showcased Turkey's form on their debut in the FIVB's top Women's event.
Turkey made a sensational debut in the FIVB World Grand Prix by winning Pool A in Kobe, Japan. Only one loss in five sets against Japan blocked their way to a perfect leg, counting out a 3-1 win against USA and a 25-17, 26-24, 25-15 win over Kazakhstan. The Americans, World Grand Prix champions in 1995 and 2001, improved their win-loss record to 2-1, finishing on a high note by beating the hosts 3-2. In the most balanced Pool of the entire leg, Japan signed the same 2-1 win-loss record after an enduring 13-set challenge. Kazakhstan, making their second appearance in the World Grand Prix, were missing injured captain and ace spiker Yelena Pavlova and ended their Japanese experience with no wins.
China started at full throttle in Ningbo, China, where the last edition of the World Grand Prix ended. Pool B hosted Brazil, Germany and Thailand together with the Olympic champion coached by Chen Zhonghe. China compiled a 3-0 win-loss record after outlasting nemesis Brazil in a five-set epic. Brazil collected two wins to take second place in the group. A valiant Thai team battled hard but still slumped to their third straight loss in the group, defeated by Germany on Sunday to finish bottom. Germany, having lost to China and Brazil in previous matches, compiled a 1-2 record and finished third in the standings.
"It is not a job for every day to win 3-0 against Cuba. With three successes in a row, it is a splendid beginning for the Grand Prix," said Italy Head Coach Massimo Barbolini during the press conference held in Alassio, Italy, where Pool C was played. Italy beat Dominican Republic and Poland with the same result (3-1) ahead of the last win against the Caribbean team. Poland was the surprise of the weekend, with a triple loss which put Marco Bonitta's team at the lowest position in the standings. Poland's last defeat was a 2-3 loss against the Dominican Republic under the guidance of new Head Coach Marcos Kwiek.
The Final Round will be played in Yokohama, Japan, through July 9-13 between Japan as host country and the best five ranked teams after the Preliminary Rounds.