Ningbo, China, August 24, 2010 – Two-time defending champions Brazil will lead the contention for the top honour as the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round kicks off at the Beilun Sports and Art Center on Wednesday.
Finishing atop of the preliminary round with eight wins against one loss, Brazil are trying to collect their ninth trophy at the annual women’s Volleyball tournament, which was inaugurated in 1993.
Brazil head coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes was upbeat after guiding his side to a straight-set victory over Poland in its last preliminary round match on Sunday.
“It was a good game except that we made too many mistakes in the 2nd set. But it was good experience for the final because we know there will be five tough games waiting for us,” he said. “We are well prepared mentally and physically, and with the help of our team staff, we will try to play our best volleyball and win.”
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Beijing Olympic runners-up the United States and 2009 FIVB World Grand Champions cup winners Italy will be top challengers to the Brazilian women.
Having lost two matches out of three in the opening Poland leg, USA recovered to win six in a row with the comeback of veteran spiker Logan Tom to finish second in the preliminaries with a 7-2 win-loss record. Since Brazil and the United States have not played with each other in this year’s FIVB World Grand Prix, their meeting in the Final Round on Friday should be interesting to watch.
The Italians dropped to 6-3 following a full-set loss to outsiders Dominican Republic in their last preliminary match on Sunday when head coach Massimo Barbolini rotated his players, but they should never be underestimated because they handed Brazil the only loss in the preliminaries.
China took the second place when Ningbo last hosted the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round in 2007, but this time it seemed pretty difficult for them to match or excel that performance. Qualifying for the Final Round automatically as host, the Chinese will have to fight without ace spiker Hui Ruoqi, who was set to be sidelined for over a month after receiving an injury to her shoulder in a 3-0 win over the Netherlands in Macau.
“It will be really hard for us, we will just try our best,” said Wang.
Poland (7-2) and Japan (6-3) will be the other contenders in Ningbo. With previous best finishes of sixth and fourth respectively, both teams are looking forward to setting new marks in the FIVB World Grand Prix.
In Day One’s action, Brazil take on Japan, USA face Poland while China meet Italy.
Full quotes from the press conference:
Brazil coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes: To be here with five great teams is very good for us. We hope to do well at this tournament. We were expecting to be able to play as equal with these five great teams and try to get some experience for our young players.
Italy coach Massimo Barbolini: For us, to arrive here is a good goal. After a long period of rest for some players, we started little by little, trying to improve our level of play. Now I think we are improving more. I am sure that it would be very useful to play against five teams so strong. So we will try our best to improve our level.
Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe: We are a young team. We hope to gain more experience at this tournament.
Poland coach Jerzy Matlak: The World Grand Prix is a very good experience, especially before the upcoming World Championship in one month's time. We are Europeans, playing here can let us see how we get used to different situations.
USA coach Hugh McCutcheon: For us, the goal has always been to trying to improve every day and get better as the tournament goes on. To get the opportunity to play five extra matches against such strong teams is a wonderful thing for us. We hope to continue to develop as a team and we will be better on Sunday than we are today.
China coach Wang Baoquan: The six teams competing in the World Grand Prix Final Round in Ningbo are all of high calibre. We hope to learn from other five teams and show our best level as well. After three legs of the World Grand Prix, we have received some injuries and now we have to fight without our hitter Hui Ruoqi. We will just try our best and see what we can do.