China remain undefeated as 10 teams continue battle for place in Grand Prix Finals
World No. 5 China defeated No. 14 Argentina – who entered the match knowing their chances at the Finals were out of reach – in three quick sets 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-16). The two best setters in the tournament this season, China’s Shen Jingsi (7.52 per set) and Argentina’s Yael Castiglione (7.08), battled for the first two sets, until Jingsi sat out for the last set. If China continue to win their next two matches this weekend, they would mark their best World Grand Prix start ever.
Friday’s big surprise came when Bulgaria handed Japan their first defeat of the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix on Japan’s home turf, edging their hosts 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 31-29). Japan’s coach Masayoshi Manabe used many of his young players in Friday’s match, which contributed to their unusual loss, and gave Bulgaria their first win against Japan in any FIVB competition. With the win, Bulgaria raised their record to 5-2 and 16 points and greatly improved their chances of reaching the Finals in Sapporo. Japan, who dropped to fifth place in the standings with 17 points, qualifies automatically for the Finals as hosts.
Serbia recorded their best World Grand Prix start ever by clinching a 3-1 (25-14, 25-20, 22-25, 25-21) victory over Poland on Friday. Serbia continues to stand in good position for reaching the Finals, as they take second place in the standings with 19 points. Poland are unable to reach the Finals, having won one of their first seven World Grand Prix matches and equaling their worst campaign ever.
Italy takes a third place position in the rankings with 18 points, with a defeat against Algeria 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-10) on Friday. The match, which lasted only 57 minutes, was Italy’s sixth win of the 2013 World Grand Prix. Algeria, on the other hand, have now no chance of making the Finals. They have lost all six of their matches in straight sets in the tournament so far.
USA, who are tied with Brazil and Japan with 17 points, defeated the Czech Republic on Friday in a three-set sweep (25-20, 25-20, 25-23), ending the Czech women’s chances of moving on to the Finals. As it stands now, the US team 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.
Brazil looks strong and steady in their mission to charge into the Finals, as they picked up a three-set win against Cuba 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-20), in their first Pool K match of the weekend. While Brazil have won all but one of the matches this season (they lost their second match of the second weekend to Bulgaria), Cuba has lost all of their first seven matches this season. With their worst ever start to a World Grand Prix campaign, Cuba will not advance to the Finals.
World No. 6 Russia recovered from 2-0 deficit against World No. 8 Germany to win the tie-break set 15-11 and take match 3-2 (22-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-19, 15-11). Russia keeps their hopes for the finals alive, although in far reach, in their current ninth place position with 14 points. Germany, who have won only one of 10 World Grand Prix matches against Russia, is in a tighter spot for the Finals, standing in 11th place with 12 points.
World No. 7 Turkey edged No. 10 Dominican Republic in a thrilling tiebreak match 3-2 (25-27, 22-25, 25-22, 26-24, 15-13.) Turkey currently stands in eighth place in the World Grand Prix Standings, with 15 points. The Dominican Republic is in 10thplace with 12 points. Both still have a mathematical chance to make the Finals this weekend.
Thailand is still in the running for the Finals, after powering past Puerto Rico with a magnificent come-from-behind 3-1 (18-25, 25-7, 25-22, 25-11) victory at the Hua Mark Indoor Stadium on Friday. Thailand – No.12 in the FIVB World Rankings and fourth place winner in last year’s edition of the World Grand Prix – fielded an impressive line-up which included powerful attacker Onuma Sittirak, captain Wilavan Apinyapong and home crowd favouite Pleumjit Thinkaow. The Puerto Ricans, who have yet to win a World Grand Prix match this season, have no chance of making the Finals, although they stunned their hosts with their first-set performance.
In the first ever World Grand Prix encounter between the teams, hosts Kazakhstan couldn't register a home win as Netherlands claimed a 3-0 (25-23, 25-14, 25-16) victory in Friday's pool K match. With only one point in this year’s World Grand Prix, Kazakhstan are unable to reach the final round of this World Grand Prix. The Netherlands also have slim chances of entering the Finals, with nine points in 12th position.
The final week of preliminary matches wraps up Sunday. The top six teams will then take a week off before the Finals, before competing for the championship title in Sapporo, Japan, from August 28 to September 1.
LIVE SCOREBOX | WEEK 3
Top Scoring Performances
41 – Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata of Poland v Russia (August 4)
32 – Zhu Ting of China v Netherlands (August 4)
31 – Tatyana Mudritskaya of Kazakhstan v Argentina (August 4)
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 - 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 – Milena Rasic of Serbia v Puerto Rico (August 4)
8 - Robin De Kruijf of Netherlands v Algeria (August 11)
8 – Annerys Vargas of Dominican Republic v Puerto Rico (August 10)
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)
18 – Poland v Russia (August 4)
17 – Italy v Germany (August 4)
17 – Brazil v Poland (August 2)
17 – Kazakhstan v Germany (August 2)
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 - 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: Seda Tokatlioglu of Turkey, 28 v Dominican Republic (August 16)
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)
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: Turkey v Dominican Republic, 3-2 (25-27, 22-25, 25-22, 26-24, 15-13) - 224 points
2013 World Grand Prix Tournament page