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World Grand Prix Week 2 preview: All 28 teams play in thrilling matches around the world

Defending champions Brazil begin their World Grand Prix campaign in Thailand against Japan
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 1, 2015 - The first tickets to the Finals are up for grabs in Group 3, while the 20 teams in Groups 1 and 2 make their debut in this year’s FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix this weekend. Week two of the premier annual competition for women’s national teams features fascinating match-ups all around the world, with all 28 participating teams in action.

A record-breaking 42 matches will played at seven venues this weekend - the focus will inevitably be on the favourites, who are making their first appearances in this year’s global spectacle, and the tournament in Thailand opens with a re-run of last year’s final between defending champions Brazil and Japan.

World Grand Prix preview

Both teams have already faced each other at a training camp earlier this year, with record World Grand Prix winners Brazil winning three of the four matches between the two teams over the full five-set distance. “However, the match in the FIVB World Grand Prix will be a completely different story. We will have to be at our very best in every game if we want to make it to the Finals,” said coach José Roberto Guimarães.

Ze Roberto's team, which features well-known stars but also less familiar faces like Joycinha and setter Macris, have prepared for the challenge at a training camp in Arnhem, in the Netherlands. Brazil are competing for their eleventh title in the 23rd World Grand Prix, and will also face Serbia and Thailand on the opening weekend.

Of the twelve teams in Group 1, the top five will qualify for the Finals which take place after the three preliminary-round weekends. Only world champions the USA are already guaranteed a place in the Finals in Omaha from July 22-26, as hosts of the event. It goes without saying that the US team, which won the World Grand Prix three times in a row between 2010 and 2012, is desperate to put on a great show in front of its home fans.

The first obstacle for coach Karch Kiraly’s team comes in the form of Italy, Belgium and hosts Turkey on the first weekend of the preliminary round.

World Grand Prix preview

Turkey’s ladies come into this weekend's matches brimming with confidence, following their gold medal at the inaugural European Games.

The USA only recently won the Pan American Cup. A series of friendly matches also saw them face China in a re-run of the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship final, with both teams winning twice. “This was an awesome preview of what we will be seeing in the World Grand Prix,” said Kelsey Robinson, who is looking forward to the finals in Omaha: “That will be huge to get a fan base going, get people interested in USA Volleyball.”

China are the hosts of the third preliminary round tournament in Group 1 of the FIVB World Grand Prix this weekend. Their opponents are Russia, Germany and Pan Am Cup finalists the Dominican Republic.

It is already crunch time in the second and final preliminary-round weekend in Group 3, with the four teams best-placed to secure the three tickets for the finals in Peru going head to head.

Hosts Peru and Kazakhstan remain unbeaten after the first three matches, while three-time Olympic champions Cuba and debutants Colombia both come into the all-important round robin tournament this weekend with two victories to their name.

"We reached our objective in finishing top of the tournament last week, because we want to be in the Final Four. We are motivated to continue our hard work,” said Peruvian captain Mirtha Uribe. The hot favourites to join them are undoubtedly Kazakhstan and Cuba, but Colombia are out to cause an upset.

World Grand Prix preview

Colombia coach Eduardo Guillaume: “I am satisfied with Colombia’s debut in the World Grand Prix. I really like the World Grand Prix, it is a wonderful experience for all players and it gives teams the opportunity to grow.”

The two African teams Kenya and Algeria can also still qualify for the final round, having both claimed one win in the opening weekend of the competition. Algeria’s victory over Australia was its first in the FIVB World Grand Prix. This weekend, the Algerian team have home advantage and an opportunity to claim a victory against Kenya, who they lost to in the final of the African Championships. Their other two opponents are Mexico and Australia.

As Group 3 Finals hosts, the Volleyroos are already assured of their place in the tournament, which will take place on July 11-12 in the Australian capital Canberra.  

The Finals in Group 2 will take place in Poland at the very end of the FIVB World Grand Prix, on August 1 and 2. Three participants will be decided over the course of two preliminary-round weekends. They will join hosts Poland, who were silver medalists at the recent European Games, and who will take on hosts Puerto Rico, Bulgaria and Canada in the opening tournament this weekend.

World Grand Prix preview

In Croatia, the host team take on Argentina, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands in Group 2 Pool J.

The 23rd staging of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix includes 28 teams for the first time and runs from June 26 to August 2, 2015. The FIVB World Grand Prix has grown spectacularly since it was first held in 1993, when it featured just eight teams. The increase in the number of participating teams brings with it an increased level of competition and has also helped to spread the World Grand Prix to new territories around the world.


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