Lausanne, Switzerland, July 24, 2014 – Defending
champions Brazil aim for back-to-back championship triumphs, while China and
Japan maintain their perfect participation records in the 22nd edition of the
FIVB World Grand Prix.
Brazil can defend their title for the fourth time in World Grand Prix history after achieving this feat in 2005, 2006 and 2009. Brazil are the most successful team in the World Grand Prix with nine titles and have been finalists for the last six seasons.
Asian powerhouses China and Japan are the only two teams who have participated in every edition of the World Grand Prix. Both teams played in the Final Round last year, when China were runners-up and Japan took sixth place overall. Brazil and USA have only missed out on one season of the premier annual women’s competition.
In the history of the World Grand Prix, only six teams – Brazil, USA, Russia, Cuba, China and the Netherlands - have won the World Grand Prix crown. Brazil and USA have been the most dominant teams in the last 10 editions, winning six and three titles respectively. The Netherlands are the only other country to have won during this period.
The number of teams participating in the 2014 World Grand Prix has been increased by ten, going from the 18-team format used in 2013 to a 28-team format this year. Five teams will join the competition for the first time: Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Kenya and Mexico. With these five debutants, a total of 30 teams have now taken part in the World Grand Prix. This year, Kenya will be the only team representing the African region and will be the second African team ever to participate in the World Grand Prix after Algeria last year.
· The World Grand Prix Intercontinental Round is split into three groups.
· Group 1 features 12 teams, including defending champions Brazil, USA, Japan, China, Russia, Italy, Serbia, Dominican Republic, Germany, Korea, Turkey and Thailand.
· Group 2 includes eight teams: Poland, Peru, Puerto Rico, Netherlands, Argentina, Canada, Cuba and Belgium.
· Group 3 also includes eight teams: Kenya, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Croatia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Bulgaria and Australia.
· Matches in Groups 2 and 3 will open the World Grand Prix from July 25-27 in four cities: Lima, Peru (Pool J), Carolina, Puerto Rico (Pool K), Almaty, Kazakhstan (Pool P), and Mexico City, Mexico (Pool Q).
· Pool J comprises Belgium, Canada, Peru and Poland, while Pool K includes Argentina, Cuba, Netherlands, Puerto Rico.
· Debutants Belgium recorded their best season in 2013 when they won bronze at the European Championship defeating Serbia, and silver in the European Volleyball League behind Germany.
· Canada will be playing the World Grand Prix for the second time since 2003.
· Peru will be appearing in the World Grand Prix for the third time and have recorded only one victory so far.
· Poland will make their 11th consecutive appearance in the World Grand Prix.
· Argentina have played 27 matches in the World Grand Prix and have won four times – all were five-set victories against the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Germany and Kazakhstan.
· Cuba are the most experienced in their group stage with eight medals – two gold, four silver, two bronze.
· With Cuba, the Netherlands are the only other gold medal winners in their World Grand Prix group; they have won three of their last four matches in the World Grand Prix, their only loss in this streak was against defending champions Brazil.
· Puerto Rico have played 36 matches in the World Grand Prix, with five victories.
· Pool P includes Kazakhstan, Australia, the Czech Republic and Croatia, while Pool Q consists of Algeria, Bulgaria, Kenya and Mexico.
· Kazakhstan will be in their fifth World Grand Prix season stint; their best result was in their debut season with a 10th place.
· Australia are the first ever participants from Oceania, and the second non-European World Grand Prix debutants since 2009.
· Second-timers Czech Republic will field the youngest player in Pool P, 17-year-old Michaela Mlejnkova.
· Debutants Croatia have won silver medals at the European Championships in 1995, 1997 and 1999.
· Algeria will be making their second appearance and have yet to win a match in the World Grand Prix.
· Bulgaria will also be making their second World Grand Prix appearance, with a positive record of six wins and three defeats; they will automatically qualify to the Final Four in Group 3 as hosts.
· Debutants Kenya are the most successful side in the African Championships, with eight titles and a second place finish.
· First week hosts Mexico will make their debut in the competition, without any player active outside their home league.
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