Lausanne, Switzerland, August 18, 2013 – Undefeated China, 2012 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix gold medallists USA, World No. 9 Serbia, World No. 4 Italy, 2012 Olympic champions Brazil and 2013 World Grand Prix Finals’ hosts Japan have secured their place in this year’s Finals in Sapporo, Japan from August 28 to September 1.
Seven teams battled to fill the remaining three finals spots on Sunday; the last day of the Preliminary Round. China and Serbia confirmed their Finals spot earlier on Saturday with their eighth and seventh wins of the competition respectively, while Japan were already confirmed a spot as hosts.
China will enter the World Grand Prix Finals as the only undefeated team, after beating Serbia in a tiebreak match on Sunday, 3-2 (25-17, 25-27, 25-20, 23-25, 15-5). China's first-ever victory against Serbia in the World Grand Prix confirmed their best start to the competition with nine consecutive victories, and gave them first place in the Preliminary Round. Serbia eventually finished third behind Brazil having won seven matches compared to Brazil's eight although both finished with 23 points.
Despite maintaining their perfect record, China’s coach Lang Ping insisted her team need to learn from victory.
"Serbia played very well,” Lang said after the match. “We didn't deal with it very well in the second and fourth sets. This victory was difficult and we know the gap. We can learn a lot from this, and this is a challenge. We must pay attention to the fact that there were ups and downs in today's match.”
World No. 1 USA – who have won the last three World Grand Prix editions – was the first team to fill a Finals spot on Sunday with a 3-2 win against debutants Bulgaria (16-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-15, 15-8). USA finished fourth on 22 points and will aim for an unprecedented fourth straight World Grand Prix title at this year’s Finals. Bulgaria ended their impressive debut season with 19 points, six wins and three losses.
“We’ve had challenging pools every weekend and I’m excited to get to the Finals,” USA captain Kristin Hildebrand said at a press conference following the match.
World No 4. Italy secured a much-needed win in a thrilling tiebreak match against world No. 7 Turkey on Sunday, securing their place in the Finals and ending Turkey’s 2013 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix campaign.
Sunday’s match was a do-or-die for each team, who needed the win to move onto the Finals. It was Italy, who finished 10th in last year’s World Grand Prix, who secured the spot with a second win in as many games against last year’s bronze medal winners in this year's competition, to finish fifth on 21 points. Turkey ends this year’s campaign on 19 points with six wins and three losses.
Brazil confirmed their place in the Finals with their fourth straight-sets win - 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-10) against Kazakhstan in the last match of the day on Sunday. The victory meant Brazil moved into second place in the Preliminary Round classification with 23 points, behind China. The South Americans will make their 10th consecutive appearance in the World Grand Prix Finals.
In an entertaining showdown in Sendai, Japan overcame the Czech Republic 3-2 (25-18, 22-25, 28-26, 23-25, 15-13) on Sunday. Japan raised their record in the World Grand Prix to 7-2 and 19 points, while the Czechs dropped to 2-7, with eight points. The Czech Republic’s loss to Bulgaria on Saturday meant they couldn’t advance to the Finals.
The remaining countries ended their 2013 World Grand Prix campaigns on Sunday.
In the Dominican Republic’s final match, they defeated Algeria in three quick sets 3-0 (25-11, 25-09, 25-08). The match left Algeria without a single point this year. The Dominican Republic ended their 2013 campaign with a record-best 17 points from six wins and three losses. Algeria did not win a set in any of their nine matches this year. The only other country to ever end a World Grand Prix run without winning a single set was Chinese Taipei in 2007 with nine defeats.
Puerto Rico ended their World Grand Prix campaign on a positive note after beating World No. 8 Germany in a hard-fought five-set thriller (25-23 25-23, 23-25 13-25 15-13).
In Poland’s 100th World Grand Prix appearance, they defeated world No. 19 Argentina in a thrilling tiebreak match 3-2 (25-21, 21-25, 25-12, 23-25, 15-11). Despite Argentina’s loss, Sunday’s match was the best they’ve preformed against their opponents. Previously, they have never won a set against Poland in at a main international tournament. Poland ends their campaign with six points, while Argentina finished with five – two wins and seven losses for each team.
The Netherlands closesd their 2013 World Grand Prix campain with a 4-5 scorecard as they beat Cuba in straight sets, 3-0 (25-13, 25-23, 25-22) Sunday. The Netherlands finished with 12 points, while Cuba recorded their worst ever World Grand Prix performance without a single win.
The teams now take one week off before heading to the 2013 World Grand Prix Finals in Sapporo, Japan from August 28 to September 1. The tournament is returning to Japan for the first time since 2009. Japan has hosted the World Grand Prix Finals four times in the past with Sapporo being a fifth host city after Tokyo in 2009, Yokohama in 2008, Sendai in 2005 and Kobe in 1997.
Top Scoring Performances
41 – Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata of Poland v Russia (August 4)
32 – Zhu Ting of China v Netherlands (August 4)
31 - Nataliya Goncharova of Russia v Thailand (August 18)
31 – Tatyana Mudritskaya of Kazakhstan v Argentina (August 4)
29 - Aneta Havlickova of Czech Republic v Japan (August 18)
29 - Valentina Diouf of Italy v Dominican Republic (August 17)
28 - Risa Shinnabe of Japan v Czech Republic (August 18)
28 - Karina Ocasio of Puerto Rico v Germany (August 18)
28 - Ana Bjelica of Serbia v China (August 18)
28 - Prisilla Rivera Brens of Dominican Republic v Italy (August 17)
28 - Seda Tokatlioglu of Turkey v Dominican Republic (August 16)
28 – Yukiko Ebata of Japan v Kazakhstan (August 10)
28 – Bethania De La Cruz of Dominican Republic v Czech Republic (August 4)
27 - Bethania De La Cruz of Dominican Republic v Turkey (August 16)
27 – Miyu Nagaoka of Japan v Germany (August 9)
26 - Onuma Sittirak of Thailand v Russia (August 18)
26 - Dobriana Rabadzhieva of Bulgaria v Dominican Republic (August 11)
25 - Aneta Havlickova of Czech Republic v Argentina (August 11)
25 - Emiliya Nikolova of Bulgaria v Dominican Republic (August 11)
25 - Kelly Murphy of USA v Serbia (August 11)
25 – Bethania De La Cruz of Dominican Republic v Brazil (August 9)
25 – Gabriela Guimaraes of Brazil v Dominican Republic (August 9)
25 – Nataliya Goncharova of Russia v Brazil (August 3)
Top Blocking Performances
9 - Thaisa Menezes of Brazil v Kazakhstan (August 18)
9 – Milena Rasic of Serbia v Puerto Rico (August 4)
8 - Zuzanna Efimienko of Poland v Argentina (August 18)
8 - Robin De Kruijf of Netherlands v Algeria (August 11)
8 – Annerys Vargas of Dominican Republic v Puerto Rico (August 10)
7 - Christa Harmotto of USA v Japan (August 17)
7 – Cristina Barreto of Brazil v Poland (August 2)
7 – Strashimira Filipova of Bulgaria v Puerto Rico (August 9)
Top Blocking Performances by Team
24 - Russia v Germany (August 16)
20 - USA v Japan (August 17)
19 - Poland v Argentina (August 18)
18 - Kazakhstan v Cuba (August 17)
18 – Poland v Russia (August 4)
17 - China v Serbia (August 18)
17 - Russia v Thailand (August 18)
17 – Italy v Germany (August 4)
17 – Brazil v Poland (August 2)
17 – Kazakhstan v Germany (August 2)
16 - Serbia v China (August 18)
16 - Czech Republic v Japan (August 18)
16 - Dominican Republic v Italy (August 17)
16 - Serbia v Poland (August 16)
16 – Russia v Poland (August 4)
16 – Serbia v Puerto Rico (August 4)
16 – Dominican Republic v Puerto Rico (August 3)
16 – Brazil v Russia (August 3)
Top Serving Performances
7 - Saori Kimura of Japan v Poland (August 11)
6 - Neslihan Darnel of Turkey v China (August 11)
5 – Denise Hanke of Germany v Kazakhstan (August 2)
5 – Sana Jarlagassova of Kazakhstan v Germany (August 2)
Top Serving Performances by Team
13 - Turkey v China (August 11)
12 - Turkey v Argentina (August 9)
12 – Argentina v Kazakhstan (August 4)
11 – Germany v Poland (August 10)
11 – Serbia v Algeria (August 10)
11 – China v Cuba (August 3)
10 - Poland v Argentina (August 18)
10 - Netherlands v Algeria (August 11)
10 - Germany v Kazakhstan (August 11)
10 - Japan v Poland (August 11)
10 – Germany v Argentina (August 3)
10 – Serbia v Czech Republic (August 3)
Highest Scorer by Round
Week 1: Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata of Poland, 41 v Russia (August 4)
Week 2: Yukiko Ebata of Japan, 28 v Kazakhstan (August 10)
Week 3: Nataliya Goncharova of Russia, 31 v Thailand (August 18)
Highest Set Score
Week 1: Poland v Russia, 30-28 (August 4)
Japan v Turkey, 30-28 (August 4)
Week 2: Argentina v Turkey, 36-34 (August 9)
Week 3: Japan v Bulgaria, 29-31 (August 16)
Week 3: Italy v Dominican Republic, 30-32 (August 17)
Highest Scoring Matches
Week 1: Russia v Poland, 3-2 (25-21, 22-25, 29-27, 28-30, 15-13) – 235 points
week 2: Bulgaria v Dominican Republic, 2-3 (22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 30-28, 14-16) - 226 points
Week 3: Italy v Dominican Republic, 3-2 (25-21, 25-19, 30-32, 24-26, 11-15) - 228 points
2013 World Grand Prix Tournament page
2013 World Grand Prix Live Scorebox
2013 World Grand Prix Schedule
FIVB World Rankings
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Twitter - @FIVB Volleyball, @FIVBGrandPrix
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