Coaches look forward to another three days of world-class volleyball
After two rounds, Brazil are the only team with a record of two victories in the competition but their mentor Bernardo Rezende does not take anything for granted. “As I said in Kyoto right before the start of the tournament, this is a high-level competition and we have already seen other teams have their ups and downs. Italy beat Russia on Tuesday and after that they lost to Iran, whereas Russia bounced back from their defeat to rout Japan in three sets. The tournament is still very open and the matches coming up this weekend will be very exciting. We first play Japan and we know that they defend a lot so we will have to keep focused if we want to prolong our winning streak before taking on another two demanding matches.” Brazil are vying for their third consecutive World Grand Champions Cup title – and fourth overall – having always medalled since the competition was incepted in 1993.
Team Japan mentor Gary Sato was clear about the goals he has set for his team: “In order to be the best you need to compete with the best teams in the world and this is exactly what we are doing with this competition. I think this weekend will provide many volleyball fans here in Tokyo with an opportunity to witness world-class matches and we just want to put on a good show, compete and do our best.” Japan travelled to Tokyo with a 0:2 win-loss record after losing their matches in Kyoto to USA (1-3) and Russia (0-3).
On Friday Italy and USA will open the programme of the third round at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Italy started off strong beating Russia but on Wednesday lost 2-3 to Asian champions Iran. “We came here with a young team, and actually we have the youngest roster in this tournament,” said Italy coach Mauro Berruto. “We are looking forward to the coming matches because my young players do need to compete at this level to get the experience they are still lacking. Of course we are happy with our second place after two rounds but we also know that we have another three tough matches ahead.”
USA beat Japan on Tuesday before losing in straight sets to Brazil a game that, as per the statement made by Bernardo Rezende, “felt like a tie-break.” US American mentor John Speraw is pretty happy with what his players have accomplished so far: “We played a good game with Japan and did so also with Brazil even though as you know in the end it did not go our way. Actually what makes me happy is that I have seen the team progress since the start of our training camp and the younger players are those who have showed the best performances so far. I would like to single out our libero Erik Shoji and also our young setter Micah Christenson, but also our captain Sean Rooney who is coming back from shoulder surgery and played a good game with Brazil.”
In the other match coming up on Friday, Russia will play Iran. “We have analysed our defeat to Italy and we have identified the mistakes we made there. We are working hard and I can promise that we are going to take the next matches with maximum concentration so as to be able to display our best volleyball” says Russia head coach Andrey Voronkov.
After they beat Italy on Wednesday Iran confirmed their status of major sensation of the tournament as well as their steady progress. “It is a real honour for my team to be able to play the reigning Olympic and European champions” said Iran mentor Julio Velasco. “They also are the winners of this year’s World League, so basically the best team in the world. This tournament is a valuable opportunity for my team to play opponents with very different styles. My players have to adjust their tactics and way of playing to the side standing on the other side of the net and this is the only way for us to progress.”
On Friday second-placed Italy will open the programme of day three playing USA before Russia take on Iran at 4 pm local time. Team Japan and Brazil will round out the schedule for the first day of action at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium with their match coming up at 7 pm local time.
Watch a video of the press conference held on Thursday at the Keio Hotel in Tokyo: