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2006 edition
Netherlands and Italy claim remaining finals berths

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 10, 2005 – Straight set victories for the Netherlands (25-12, 25-20, 25-15) over Korea and Italy (25-22, 25-22, 25-22) over Olympic champions China on the final day of the Preliminary Round has seen both teams claim the two remaining Final Round spots, joining hosts Japan, defending champions Brazil, China and Olympic bronze medalists Cuba in the finals set for Sendai, Japan from July 13-18.

Prior to the start of the final day of the Preliminary Round, Poland, USA, Italy and the Netherlands were all chasing the final two spots in the six-team Final Round – after Japan, Brazil, China and Cuba had qualified earlier - and Sunday’s action presented some fantastic scenarios. But in the end Poland, despite beating the USA 3-1 (25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 25-22) in Bangkok, found their point ratio too much to their disadvantage and finished in seventh as Italy shocked Olympic champions China in what was potentially their saving grace.
Serena Ortolani on attack for Italy
“I am very happy as this was an excellent game and a big day for Italy,” coach Marco Bonitta said. “We only had two to three experienced players while the rest of the teal is still young and inexperienced, but today, they all played at the same level.”

USA, under new coach Jenny Lang Ping, finished a disappointing campaign in eighth position just as they looked to be possibly sneaking into the finals through the back door.

In other action, the Dominican Republic finally broke their duck after nine matches of the Preliminary Round by beating Germany 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-21, 15-7) in the opening match in Hong Kong.

“I must say I am the happiest man today, not for myself but for my players,” Dominican Republic coach Francisco Cruz said. “They worked very hard for this. We are the youngest team in the World Grand Prix and it is only our second appearance in the competition, which has the strongest teams in the world.”

In Taipei, Cuba lost their unbeaten record after going down to defending champions Brazil 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-23) and in Bangkok, fist-pumping Japan pulled off a dramatic come-from-behind 3-1 (23-25 25-22 25-17 25-22) victory over hosts Thailand, who were the only side in the competition not to win a match.

The final round in Sendai will see the six teams play 15 matches over five days in a round-robin format with the team with the most victories walking away as 2005 World Grand Prix champion

Final Preliminary Round standings: 1) China 2) Brazil 3) Cuba 4) Italy 5) Japan 6) Netherlands 7) Poland 8) USA 9) Korea 10) Germany 11) Dominican Republic 12) Thailand