The Preliminary Round action continues over the first three weekends of August and climaxes with the Finals in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo. The Finals will run from August 28 to September 1.
This year, the world’s premier annual women’s volleyball tournament – now in its 21st year – will feature 20 teams, an increase of four from last year. China and Japan are the only teams who have competed in every tournament.
The United States will be looking for a record fourth straight title while Brazil will be hoping to end their streak of silver medals in the last three years and finally make it to the top. Eight of the last nine titles have been won by Brazil or the United States.
Only four other teams have taken the top prize: Russia, Cuba, China and the Netherlands.
Only five teams will be able to join hosts Japan in the Finals at the end of August.
All 20 teams will be in action on August 2, with matches taking place in Macau, Ankara, Montichiari, Santo Domingo and Campinas. That means the action will stretch over 11 time zones and almost run around the clock. Fans can keep an eye on the action via the World Grand Prix web page on the fivb.org website and via the FIVB’s Twitter accounts. Selected matches will also be streamed live on FIVB Web TV.
• Russia have won their first match of the World Grand Prix in every participation since 2003, when they lost their opener to Korea.
• Russia are a three-time World Grand Prix champion, triumphing in 1997, 1999 and 2002.
• The last time Russia did not survive the preliminary round was in 2004.
• The triple defending champion United States can become the first country to win the World Grand Prix in four consecutive years. The USA currently share the record of three straight titles with Brazil (2004-06).
• In their three-year reign in the World Grand Prix from 2010-2012, the USA have only lost four out of 42 matches: to Germany, Poland, Serbia and Brazil.
• By winning their 2013 opener, the USA would set a new national World Grand Prix record with their 17th consecutive win. The USA previously won 16 World Grand Prix matches in a row in 2010-2011.
• With 189 victories in World Grand Prix play, Brazil is the most successful nation in the history of the tournament. China is next with 158 victories.
• Brazil have won eight of the 20 World Grand Prix titles and have finished on the podium in 15 of the 19 editions in which they have taken part.
• Brazil have come first or second in each of the last five editions, but have finished runner-up to the United States in each of the last three tournaments.
• Brazil's last four defeats have been at the hands of the United States. The last team from another country to win against Brazil was Japan in the 2010 Final Round.
• Brazil are the current Olympic champions.
• Poland are making their 10th consecutive World Grand Prix appearance since their debut in 2004.
• Poland's best World Grand Prix result is sixth, achieved in both 2007 and 2010.
RUSSIA v USA
• Including final rounds, the teams have gone head-to-head in 19 World Grand Prix matches. Russia have won 11, the USA eight.
• Russia have won the last two encounters.
• Russia won five in a row against the USA from 1996-1998.
• Eight of the 19 matches have gone to a deciding set, with both teams winning four matches.
BRAZIL v POLAND
• Brazil have won all their eight World Grand Prix matches against Poland, losing only four sets.
• In their last encounter in the 2012 preliminary round, Poland came closest to beating Brazil. They fell two sets behind, managed to come back to make it 2-2 but lost 15-10 in the fifth and final set.
• In all competitions (World Grand Prix, Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup), Poland have beaten Brazil three times in a total of 16 matches, but Poland have not beaten Brazil since the 1970 World Championship.
BRAZIL v RUSSIA
• Brazil have won their last two World Grand Prix matches against Russia, the last being the 2011 semifinal (3-0).
• In total the two teams have faced each other on 24 occasions in the World Grand Prix. Brazil have won 13, Russia 11.
USA v POLAND
• This will be the eighth World Grand Prix meeting between the USA and Poland. The USA have won five, Poland two.
• Their most recent World Grand Prix encounter was in the final round of 2010. Poland took a 0-2 lead, but the USA won a nail-biting third set 28-26 and went on to win the match.
• The last time Poland beat the USA in any competition was in the 2010 World Grand Prix preliminary round (3-1).
BRAZIL v USA
• Brazil have lost their last three matches against the USA, their longest consecutive losing streak against the Americans.
• If they lose again, they will equal their World Grand Prix record of losing four consecutive matches against a specific opponent. They did so three times before: against Russia (1999-2000), China (2001-2002) and Germany (2002).
• In total, the two teams have faced each other 17 times before at the World Grand Prix. The USA have won eight times, Brazil nine.
• In all competitions, the USA have won five of the last six meetings with Brazil. Their one loss, was the 2012 Olympic final (3-1).
RUSSIA v POLAND
• This will be the sixth World Grand Prix meeting between Russia and Poland and the first since 2007. Poland’s sole win came in the preliminary round of 2007 when they beat Russia in straight sets.
• This is Puerto Rico's fourth appearance in the World Grand Prix, all of which have come since 2009.
• In their first three World Grand Prix campaigns, Puerto Rico managed four wins against 23 losses.
• Last year, Puerto Rico won two matches in one World Grand Prix season for the first time, defeating both Argentina and the Dominican Republic.
• Despite those encouraging victories, Puerto Rico's overall rank has gone down with each appearance, from 10th in 2009 to 11th in 2010 to 13th in 2012.
• The Czech Republic are making their World Grand Prix debut in 2013. They qualified by winning the 2012 European League on home soil.
• At European Championship level, the Czechs' best result was third in 1997; they came eighth in the most recent edition in 2011.
• The Dominican Republic are making their 10th appearance in the World Grand Prix.
• The team has an 18-63 record in its 81 World Grand Prix matches so far and has never qualified for the final round. It finished 12th in each of the last two seasons.
• Their most successful year in terms of World Grand Prix victories was 2008, when the Dominicans won four of their nine matches.
• Their last win against a European opponent dates back to 2011, when they beat Poland twice.
• Serbia have only competed in two previous World Grand Prix tournaments, finishing third on their debut in 2011 but slipping to 11th last year.
• Serbia have lost four of their last five World Grand Prix matches entering the 2013 campaign.
PUERTO RICO v CZECH REPUBLIC
• Since the Czech Republic are making their World Grand Prix debut, this will be the first World Grand Prix meeting between these two teams.
• The two countries met at the 2010 World Championship, where the Czech Republic beat Puerto Rico in straight sets in the first round of the tournament.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC v SERBIA
• These two teams have met each other once before in the World Grand Prix. In the preliminary round of 2011, Serbia proved too strong for the Dominican Republic, winning in straight sets.
• The countries clashed at the 2011 World Cup when the Dominican Republic beat Serbia 3-2.
SERBIA v CZECH REPUBLIC
• This will be the first World Grand Prix meeting between these two teams.
• Serbia and the Czech Republic have met at the 2007 and 2009 European Championships. Serbia won both matches in straight sets.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC v PUERTO RICO
• The only World Grand Prix meeting between these teams was in the preliminary round of last year’s edition. The match went down to the wire before Puerto Rico eventually won the fifth set 15-12.
SERBIA v PUERTO RICO
• This will be the first time for these teams to go head-to-head in the World Grand Prix.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC v CZECH REPUBLIC
• This will be the first World Grand Prix meeting between these two teams.
• As the organizing country, Japan are already qualified for the finals.
• Japan will be making a record 21st appearance in the World Grand Prix.
• Japan's best classification at the World Grand Prix is fourth in 1994 and 1997. More recently, Japan finished in the top six four years in a row from 2008-2011 until coming ninth last year.
• Japan have the most losses of all countries in World Grand Prix history: 140. Korea, who are not competing in 2013, are the only other team with more than 100 defeats (104).
• Japan won the bronze medal at last year’s Olympic Games.
• Thailand made their World Grand Prix debut in 2002, and they have missed only one edition since (2007).
• Thailand had their best ever World Grand Prix result last year when they finished fourth.
• Thailand won the Asia Championship in 2009 and the Asian Cup in 2012.
• Last year, Thailand won seven of their nine Preliminary Round matches and defeated both China and Cuba in the final round.
• Nootsara Tomkom was named Best Setter in the 2012 World Grand Prix.
• Ankara will host Pool C, the first time Turkey have played at home in the World Grand Prix.
• Turkey finished third in 2012.
• In 2012, no country managed to beat Turkey in straight sets. The Turks are on a 14-match streak with at least one set won.
• In 2012, Turkey won 10 of their 14 matches in the World Grand Prix, including three matches in the final round, and never lost two matches in a row.
• Libero Gülden Kayalar Kuzubasioglu was the Best Receiver in the 2012 World Grand Prix. Neslihan Darnel was the Best Server.
• Algeria are one of three World Grand Prix debutants this year, alongside Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
• Algeria became African champions in 2009 and won the All-Africa Games in 1978, 2007 and 2011.
• At Olympic level, Algeria finished 11th at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
TURKEY v ALGERIA
• These two nations have never met each other in an international competition.
THAILAND v JAPAN
• These teams meet for the sixth time in the World Grand Prix. Of the previous five, Japan won three, Thailand two.
• In the last four World Grand Prix matches between Japan and Thailand, results have alternated. According to this rhythm, Japan should win.
ALGERIA v JAPAN
• Algeria and Japan will meet for the first time at World Grand Prix level.
• The countries met at the 2010 World Championship, the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Olympic Games. All three encounters ended in straight-sets wins for Japan.
TURKEY v THAILAND
• This match features the third- and fourth-placed teams from last year's tournament. For both teams, 2012 was their best ever World Grand Prix.
• In the Final Round last year, Turkey and Thailand faced each other for the first time; Turkey won 3-1.
THAILAND v ALGERIA
• These two nations have never met each other in any international competition.
TURKEY v JAPAN
• Turkey and Japan have played each other six times. Japan won the first four matches, Turkey the last two.
• Three of these six matches took place on the World Grand Prix stage (all in preliminary rounds). In 2012, Turkey won 3-0 and 3-1.
Only one of Turkey's 23 World Grand Prix matches has gone to a fifth set. This was the 3-2 loss against Japan in 2008.
• Cuba won the inaugural World Grand Prix in 1993. Since that title, they added one more gold medal (2000).
• Cuba have finished second in the World Grand Prix five times, equal with Brazil and Russia for most runner-up finishes.
• In last year's final round, Cuba lost all five of their matches in straight sets.
• Yoana Palacio Mendoza was the Best Spiker in the 2012 World Grand Prix.
• The Netherlands claimed the title in 2007. This has been their only podium finish at the World Grand Prix. The five other countries who have won the title all have at least seven medals.
• Despite being one of only six countries to have won the World Grand Prix (in 2007), the Netherlands have lost more matches (50) than they have won (44) in World Grand Prix play.
• China booked their only World Grand Prix win in 2003. They finished second in 2001, 2002 and 2007.
• China have played more World Grand Prix matches (248) than any other country.
• China and Japan are the only countries who have participated in every World Grand Prix.
• China have finished in the Top 5 in all World Grand Prix editions except 2011 (eighth).
• Xian Zhang was the Best Digger and Best Libero in the 2012 World Grand Prix.
• Bulgaria are one of three World Grand Prix debutants, alongside Algeria and the Czech Republic.
• Bulgaria's only international triumph came in 1981, when they became European champions in their own capital Sofia.
CUBA v NETHERLANDS
• These nations have played each other eight times in the World Grand Prix with Cuba winning six and the Netherlands two.
• Their last World Grand Prix meeting was won by the Netherlands 3-1 in 2007.
• Their last meeting was at the 2010 World Championship when the Netherlands won 3-0.
CHINA v BULGARIA
• These teams will meet for the first time in the World Grand Prix.
BULGARIA v NETHERLANDS
• These teams will meet for the first time in World Grand Prix play.
• The Netherlands and Bulgaria have clashed at the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011 European Championships. Bulgaria lost the last three encounters in straight sets.
CHINA v CUBA
• This will be China's 250th match in World Grand Prix play. China are the first country to reach this milestone.
• Of the previous 30 World Grand Prix matches between China and Cuba, the former won 12 and the latter 18. China have won 10 of the last 13.
• The 1996 Olympic Games final between China and Cuba also took place on August 3.
BULGARIA v CUBA
• These teams will meet for the first time at World Grand Prix level.
• The countries met at the 2002 World Championships, when Cuba beat Bulgaria 3-2.
CHINA v NETHERLANDS
• China and the Netherlands have met 14 times at World Grand Prix level. The Netherlands have won three of these matches, China 11.
• All three Dutch wins were booked in five sets. None of China's 11 victories went the distance.
• Germany are making their sixth consecutive World Grand Prix appearance and their 14th in total.
• Germany’s win-loss record in the competition is 39-93.
• Their best result in the World Grand Prix is third (2002 and 2009).
• Germany have won only one of their previous 13 opening matches. Their only opening day victory came in 2009 when they beat the USA 3-0.
• Germany have advanced beyond the preliminary round in only one of their last six World Grand Prix appearances (2009).
• This is Kazakhstan’s fourth appearance in the World Grand Prix, after finishing 10th in 2007, 12th 2008 and 15th in 2011.
• Kazakhstan have won only two of their 27 matches in the competition, both in five sets. In 2007 they beat Dominican Republic 3-2 and in 2008 they won 3-2 against Thailand.
• Kazakhstan have lost their last 11 consecutive World Grand Prix matches.
• Inna Matveyeva is 34 years old. In all of the 2013 World Grand Prix squads only Danielle Scott-Arruda (USA) is older: 40.
• Italy are appearing for the 15th time in the World Grand Prix. The only European country with more appearances is Russia (16, excluding 2013).
• Their best result in the World Grand Prix is silver (2004 and 2005).
• Last season Italy finished in 10th place: their worst World Grand Prix finish.
• Italy are reigning World Cup champions.
• Floriana Berone and Valentina Diouf (202cm) are the two tallest players in all the 2013 World Grand Prix squads.
• Argentina are making their third consecutive World Grand Prix appearance since their debut in 2011.
• Argentina have won only two of their 18 World Grand Prix matches and are winless in their last thirteen. Chinese Taipei hold the competition record of most consecutive defeats: 26.
• Their only two wins were recorded in August 2011 when they beat Dominican Republic and Cuba, both in five sets.
GERMANY v KAZAKHSTAN
• Germany and Kazakhstan have played twice before in World Grand Prix history, with Germany beating Kazakhstan 3-0 on both occasions.
ITALY v ARGENTINA
• Italy and Argentina have faced each other once before in the World Grand Prix. Italy beat Argentina 3-0 during the 2011 opening weekend in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
• Argentina are winless against European opponents in the World Grand Prix, losing all six previous encounters.
GERMANY v ARGENTINA
• This will be the first ever meeting between Argentina and Germany in World Grand Prix history.
• The last time the two teams met in an international tournament was at the 2011 World Cup when Germany beat Argentina in straight sets.
ITALY v KAZAKHSTAN
• This will be the second meeting between the two countries in the World Grand Prix, after Italy beat Kazakhstan in five sets in the 2011 preliminary round.
• In 2008, the countries met at the Beijing Olympic Games, when Italy beat Kazakhstan in straight sets.
ARGENTINA v KAZAKHSTAN
• This will be the first ever meeting between Argentina and Kazakhstan in World Grand Prix history.
ITALY v GERMANY
• Italy and Germany have clashed six times before in the World Grand Prix, with Italy winning five and Germany one.
• Last year Germany ended their winless run against Italy in the World Grand Prix after five consecutive defeats, beating the Azzuri 3-0 in the preliminary round in São Paulo, Brazil.
• Germany’s Italian-born coach Giovanni Guidetti was assistant coach of the Italian women’s team from 1997 to 2000.