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Statistical Preview - All eyes on China and Japan

 
One of the key match ups in week three of the World Grand Pirx is China against Serbia, who last met in the 2011 Finals

Lausanne, Switzerland, August 15, 2013 – With the race on for the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Finals heating up, all eyes are on the tournament leaders after two weeks of Preliminary Round action – China and Japan.

Both will put their unbeaten record on the line when the third and final weekend of the Preliminary Round starts on Friday and both face key matche ups again fellow top five teams.
Leaders China take on third placed Serbia on home soil in a key Pool N encounter in Wuhan on Sunday at 11:30 GMT (19:30 local).

China, who currently have won their first six games could set a personal record of winning their first nine matches if they win all three games this weekend (previous best was eight in 2005, 2008 and 2012, China set their record by winning their first eight matches. They could mark their best World Grand Prix start ever by winning all three matches this weekend.

Serbia, meanwhile, have made their best start to a World Grand Prix by having won five of their first six matches in 2013 and will hope to continue that form to qualifiy for the Finals for the second time in three editions.

Serbia, who have Milena Rasic as the tournament’s best blocker in absolute numbers (28 stuffs) and by set (1.33 average), have beaten China the two previous times these two sides have met in the World Grand Prix having won in 2011 3-1 in the Preliminary Round and 3-2 in the Finals.

After losing their first three international matches against Serbia, China managed to beat them in their last encounter - 3-1 at the 2011 World Cup.

In another feature game, second place Japan, who automatically qualify for the World Grand Prix Finals as hosts, will play USA, who are in fifth spot, in Sendai.

Japan have won their opening six games in a World Grand Prix for the first time and including the last match of 2012, Japan have now won seven straight World Grand Prix matches. This equals their country record they set in 1994.

The most wins ever for Japan in a World Grand Prix season is eight, booked in 1994, 2010 and 2011 so if they win all three games this weekend they could set a new record.

The three-time defending champions United States never lost more than two matches over a complete World Grand Prix campaign since 2010. They have lost one so far this season.

As it stands now, United States, who have Kelly Murphy as the best spiker in this year’s World Grand Prix so far with a 48.89% success rate,  are one of three countries in the top-six who reached the Finals last year, alongside Brazil and China. Turkey, Thailand and Cuba completed the field last year.

Japan and USA have met each other 21 times in this tournament. USA have won 15 of these matches, compared to six wins by Japan. United States have won the last five World Grand Prix matches against Japan, including the last three in straight sets. Japan’s last win (3-1) came in July 2005.

However, in other main international competitions, Japan have won the last two matches against United States: the 2010 World Championships bronze medal match (3-2) and at the 2011 World Cup (3-0).

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