Ningbo, China, August 25, 2010 – Japan pulled off a huge upset on the opening day of 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round by beating two-time defending champions and Beijing Olympic Games winners Brazil for the first time since 2001 in five sets at the Beilun Sports and Arts Centre on Wednesday, while Beijing Olympic Games runner’s-up the United States and 2009 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup winners Italy also got off to winning starts in the six-team round robin tournament. Japan beat Brazil 3-2 (13-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 15-13), USA overcame Poland 3-2 (13-25, 18-25, 28-26, 25-19, 15-12) while Italy swept China 3-0 (25-20, 25-16 and 25-21).
FIVB World Grand Prix
USA beat Poland 3-2 (13-25, 18-25, 28-26, 25-19, 15-12)
Foluke Akinradewo scored 19 points while Logan Tom added 18 to help the United States come-from-behind and beat Poland. Going down tamely in the first two sets, USA put up more of a fight in the third set thanks to Logan Tom’s superb spiking but Poland still held the lead thanks to star spikers Anna Baranska and Kosek Karolina. Trailing 24-22, USA staved off two match points to level at 24-24 and went on to take an edge at 27-26. Then Polish opposite Skowronska-Dolata Katarzyna spiked a ball long to hand their opponents a hard-fought set. With their first set behind them, USA turned on the power and strolled to through the fourth set before Nnamani Ogonna delivered a fine spike from the middle to close out the dramatic match in the fifth. “We started very slowly, partly due to our own problems, partly due to the pressure from Poland. They got some really good staff in attacking,” U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “The third set was the turning point. I am happy that we are playing more like a team. It's a good lesson for us.”
Japan beat Brazil 3-2 (13-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 15-13)
World No. 1 Brazil suffered a shock blow in its bid to win a record ninth FIVB World Grand Prix title when they lost to Japan for the first time since losing in straight sets at the 2001 Grand Champions Cup and World Grand Prix. Brazil, who had beaten Japan during the Preliminary Round in straight sets, recorded 22 kill blocks, compared with eight for Japan, but still could not stop the Asian women’s brave comeback. "We (the players) had never defeated Brazil before, so all of us feel very happy about today's victory," Japan captain Erika Araki said. "I hope that we can continue with this good form in following matches." Wing spiker Yukiko Ebata scored 26 points and Saori Kimura added 23 to lead Japan to the victory. “They played with the same style, same combination, but they did really well today. They deserved to win,” Brazil coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes said. “We did not play our normal game. We were not playing together, not playing as a team while Japan took advantage of this situation.”
Italy beat China 3-0 (25-20, 25-16 and 25-21)
In the last match of the day, Antonella Del Core scored 15 points including six spikes as Italy beat the hosts in straight sets. “We played a very good match against a strong team,” Italy coach Massimo Barbolini said. “I am satisfied with our play, especially in the third set where China started very well.”
China head coach Wang Baoquan said his players were too anxious to win but failed to display their real strength. “They wanted to play well, but the game went the opposite way,” he said. “We should improve our mentality and try to play better in the next match."
On day two of the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round on Thursday, USA will face Italy as Poland play Brazil and China clash with Japan. All matches will be screened live on FIVB TV.