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Almaty awaits exhilarating week three action

Brazil will play Cuba and hosts Kazakhstan take on the Netherlands on the first day

Almaty, Kazakhstan, August 14, 2013 – Olympic champions Brazil will take on Cuba, the Netherlands and hosts Kazakhstan in Pool K in the third weekend of the Preliminary Round for the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix, as they look to gain a World Grand Prix Finals starting Friday.

World No. 2 Brazil are in sixth place on the World Grand Prix Standings with 14 points from five wins and one defeat – a surprise 3-1 loss to Bulgaria on week two - knowing that they will need to win all three matches to ensure their place in the Finals, which will feature the top five teams from the Preliminary Round and hosts Japan.

Brazil coach José Roberto Guimarães admitted to facing a tough weekend ahead after a 10-hour flight but was clear in his side's goals for the weekend.

"Cuba and Brazil will always be a classic,” he said during the coaches’ press conference at the Baluan Sholak Sport and Culture Palace on Wednesday. “It will be especially important for those new to this type of match. We need a good win against Cuba to continue our race to the Finals. Then we will play against the Netherlands, who we already played three times in Brazil. I think this will be our most dangerous game in Almaty. Manon Flier, who did not play in the friendly matches in Brazil and has previously been voted the Most Valuable Player of the World Grand Prix, will play here. It can make a difference. And finally, we will face Kazakhstan playing at home. This step is important because we have to try to make the nine points to qualify for the Finals as well."

The Netherlands’ coach Gido Vermuelen embraced the challenge of facing Olympic champions Brazil, despite the Dutch team facing a transition period.

“We’re a very young team. We are building a team, (but) we are very happy to play the games,” said Vermuelen said. "We played a very good first week. We won against Cuba. We played very well against China but we’re not so happy with our game against Bulgaria. Last week we played USA and Serbia and they are really powerful volleyball teams.” 

The Netherlands will look to improve their 2:4 win:loss record in the 12:00 GMT (18:00 local time) encounter on Friday against the hosts. 

“Kazakhstan plays a really different volleyball game than the other teams so we have to prepare well.” Vermeulen said. “But it’s not only hitting. You also have to defend the ball and play a really interesting game with a lot of combinations. We have a very good defensive team because we are used to play against Japan and China. That’s what we need against Kazakhstan.” 
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s coach Oleksandr Gutor expressed his regret about his team’s performances in the earlier rounds where they picked up only one point from a 3-2 defeat to Argentine in the first week.
“The players didn't use tactical approaches and technical skills they were practising during training cycle,” he said.
Cuba is likewise on a mission to chart their first win and first points of the tournament but Friday’s opening match against Brazil 09:00 GMT (15:00 local time) will be far from an easy task.

Coach Juan Carlos Gala Rodriguez simply expressed how excited he was in amassing playing experience for his young team in the third round.

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