champions beaten, three leaders after week 1
Switzerland, July 11, 2004 Brazil, Cuba and Italy have
taken an unbeaten lead following the first three matches
in the first weekend of the 2004 World Grand Prix
Preliminary Round, which concluded on Sunday.
Brazil, playing in Taiwan with defending champions
China, Germany and the Dominican Republic, beat the
Central Americans and Europeans 3-0 and 3-1 respectively
before upsetting the world number one team of China 3-1
Pic: Brazilian captain Fernanda Venturini sets for
Virna Dias who scored a game high 22 points against
It is never easy to play against China as they
are the top team in the world for the time being,
Brazilian coach Jose Guimaraes said. But our team did
their best beyond my expectation today.
China beat Brazil for the 2003 World Cup title and
despite not playing without their powerful spiker Zhao
Ruirui, they are still favourites to defend their World
Grand Prix title of last year.
Our players had done their best during this match,
China coach Chen Zhong-He said. But they did not keep a
high level of service or first pass, and thus could not
organize effective attacks, which was the key problem in
In Thailand, defending and consecutive three-time
Olympic champions Cuba got off to a fantastic start
beating the hosts and Korea in straight sets while also
beating world number two USA in an excellent 3-2 (23-25
25-17 22-25 25-22 15-13) tussle.
"Cuba was unbeatable, USA coach Toshiaki Yoshida said.
We struggled hard in hitting and blocking and I think
they played much better than my girls.
The final group in Japan saw world champions Italy
display some sparkling form to dismiss the hosts 3-1
before overcoming 2002 World Grand Prix champions Russia
3-2 (25-20, 25-17, 22-25, 16-25, 15-10) and Poland 3-0
(25-15, 25-21, 25-22).
All 12 teams now move on to three new Asian venues the
Philippines, China and Indonesia for Week 2 of the
three-week Preliminary Round. Italy plus the top five
ranked teams after the Preliminary Rounds will qualify
for the Final Round, which will be held in Reggio
Calabria, Italy from July 28-August 1.
Volleyball in the spotlight again as premier event
Switzerland, July 08, 2004 - China, the world number one
women's Volleyball team on the FIVB rankings, are
preparing to defend their World Grand Prix title when
the 2004 version of the premier women's Volleyball event
begins on Friday.
The 2004 $1 Million World Grand Prix, now in its 12th
year, will entertain fans around the world in an
exciting format of a Preliminary Round in Asia before
the Final Round in Italy. Last year the World Grand Prix
was moved from its traditional base in Asia to Italy
because of the health crisis caused by Severe Acute
Respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Pic: Russia, China and USA the numbers 2,1 and 3
in the 2003 WGP
This year, back in its traditional home of Asia,
China, the World Cup holders and one of the favourites
for the title, will open their campaign with a tough
encounter against Germany, ranked 11th in the world, in
Miao Li before playing the Dominican Republic on
Saturday and Brazil, in one of the feature matches of
the weekend, on Sunday.
"There are many top quality teams," said Chinese coach
Chen Zhonghe. "I have to consider Brazil, Italy, USA and
Cuba as teams of very high level. But, I think my team
is improving and is one with top skills and one goal: to
reach the top within the coming years."
Three Asian cities -
Bangkok in Thailand, Miao Li in Taiwan and Kawasaki in
Japan - will host the opening weekend of matches from
July 9-11, which sees 12 teams split into three groups
of four across the three exciting venues.
Last year's runner's up Russia play Poland in the
opening match in Kawasaki before playing world champions
Italy on Saturday and Japan on Sunday.
World number two USA has a tough opening hurdle when
they play last year's surprise World Grand Prix
finalists Korea in Bangkok before taking on three-time
Olympic champions Cuba on Saturday. Their final match is
against Thailand on Sunday.
All 12 teams move to three different venues for the
second weekend - Manila, Hong Kong and Jakarta - from
July 16-18 before visiting the German, Chinese and
Korean cities of Rostock, Hefei and Jeju City
respectively in the final weekend of Preliminary Round
from July 22-24.
World Grand Prix Final Round hosts Italy will be joined
by the top five ranked teams after the Preliminary
Rounds in the final phase.