The 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix was not lacking in shocks and sur-
prises. From USA missing out on a medal for the first time since 2010
to the rebirth of China, there was a feast of world-class volleyball for
fans all over the globe.
Three figures in particular show just how close the competition was;
no team made it through their 14 matches undefeated, 24 of the
105 matches had to be decided in a tie-break and 11 teams went
into the final week of the preliminary round still harbouring hopes of
making it to the Finals. Even eventual winners Brazil were made to
fight for their place among the top six teams in the Finals.
“The standard of this World Grand Prix was incredibly high,” said
new USA coach Karch Kiraly.
His team’s incredible run of 18 wins in a row in the competition came
to an end in the preliminary round with a 3-1 defeat to Brazil. The
US lost four in a row before eventually grabbing a consolation 3-2
win against hosts Japan, but even that wasn’t enough to stop them
finishing in the sixth and final place.
Even so players of the ilk of Cassidy Lichtman, Lauren Paolini, Lauren
Gibbemeyer, Kayla Banwarth, Kimberly Hill, and Kelly Murphy will
have gained valuable experience of major tournament conditions.
“This has been a challenging week, we lost four straight matches,”
said Kiraly. “The positive was the nice preliminary round we played;
the difficult part was seeing how good we need to be to compete
on the world stage. We learned a lot this week; they were not easy
lessons, but we learned a lot.”
Elitsa Vasileva was a powerful presence for Bulgaria as they upset Brazil
in the preliminary round
Bulgaria played a tremendous
Grand Prix. They have an exciting
future with many young players.