Volleyball: Brazil jump Japan to win World Grand Prix Finals in Tokyo
- Updated: August 25, 2014
August 24, 2014: Brazil beat Japan 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 27-25) to retain their FIVB World Grand Prix title in Tokyo and deny the hosts victory in the six-team Finals.
Brazil’s fourth straight victory since losing 3-2 to Turkey in their opener helped them leapfrog Japan in the final standings with 13 points, one more than the hosts, who had won their previous four matches. Brazil have now won 10 of the 22 editions of the World Grand Prix since it began in 1993.
China, last year’s runners-up and Asia’s other representative in the Finals, won the first two games against Russia on Sunday before losing 3-2 to finish fifth, behind Russia and Turkey in third and fourth. Belgium, who qualified by winning the second-tier Group 2, lost all five of their games to finish bottom of the standing.
Japan enjoyed a remarkable change in fortune in this year’s Grand Prix, although they were always guaranteed a place in the Finals as hosts.
Masayoshi Manabe’s side lost their first five matches in the preliminary round, before winning their final four group games – including all three in Macau to win Pool I – before continuing their winning streak for another four games in front of their home fans in the Finals.
Manabe said: “The World Grand Prix started with five losses, which was regrettable, and our aim was to become champions. We arrived today as ‘finalists’, but we were completely defeated by Brazil. We made too many mistakes.
“Our players were under a lot of pressure due to the height of Brazil’s spikes and blocks. In the first and second sets, the players made many mistakes, which resulted in a large gap with Brazil. In the third set, we made fewer mistakes, but overall we were just inferior to Brazil. Brazil’s blocks were amazing. If we want to become a top team in the world, we have to learn to react to their blocks and must improve our individual skills.”
Yuki Ishii was Japan’s top scorer with nine points, one more than talismanic captain Saori Kimura, who was honest in her assessment of the deciding match.
“Brazil are the No. 1 team in the world and they made me realise that there are many things we need to improve if we want to catch up with them. We learned a lot. They did their homework and were superior to us in all aspects,” said Kimura, Japan’s top scorer and sixth overall in Tokyo with 66 points.
“We need to think about how we can gain points, we need more combinations in attack and we need to use the full width of the court for our back attack. It’s good that we got the silver medal, but our goal was the gold medal.”
Japan earlier beat Russia 3-1 before recording 3-0 wins over Turkey, China and Belgium, while China beat Belgium 3-1, lost 3-0 to Brazil and Japan, and edged Turkey 3-2 before their disappointing loss to Russia.
China captain Zeng Chunlei and teammate Liu Xiaotong finished as the fourth and fifth highest scorers in Tokyo with 80 and 78 points respectively.
2014 World Grand Prix Dream Team
1st Best Outside Spiker: Liu Xiaotong (China)
2nd Best Outside Spiker: Miyu Nagaoka (Japan)
1st Best Middle Blocker: Irina Fetisova (Russia)
2nd Best Middle Blocker: Fabiana Claudino (Brazil)
Best Libero: Yuko Sano (Japan)
Best Setter: Danielle Lins (Brazil)
Best Opposite Spiker: Sheilla Castro (Brazil)
Most Valuable Player: Yuko Sano (Japan)
Source: FIVB (www.fivb.org); Editing by SportAsia