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Volleyball: USA-Brazil rematch highlight of World Grand Prix Finals opening day

USA's Kimberly Hill attacks Brazil's Dani Lins and Adenizia Silva during a Preliminary Round clash in Brazil on August 4. Photos: FIVB.

USA’s Kimberly Hill attacks Brazil’s Dani Lins and Adenizia Silva during a Preliminary Round clash. Photos: FIVB.

August 21, 2013: China will face Serbia, defending champions USA will face Olympic champions Brazil, and hosts Japan will tackle Italy on the opening day of next week’s FIVB World Grand Prix Finals in Sapporo.

 

The schedule features 15 games in five days from August 28-September 1, with the six teams all playing each other once in a round-robin format at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center.

 

The repeat of last year’s Olympics final between World No. 1 USA and World No. 2 Brazil is Wednesday’s standout match and the second straight year the pair have competed on the opening day of the Finals. In Ningbo last June, the Americans edged Brazil 3-2 (25-19, 25-20, 20-25, 13-25, 15-13).

 

In the London Olympics two months later, Brazil beat USA 3-1 (11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17) in the final. Earlier this month, Brazil again beat their arch-rivals 3-1 (17-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-20) as they hosted Pool A in Campinas in the first week of the Preliminary Round of the World Grand Prix.

 

Brazil eventually finished second in the Preliminary Round with 23 points from eight wins and one defeat, while USA were fourth with 22 points, also only losing once.

 

Prior to the Olympic final, USA had won their previous five matches against Brazil on their way to three successive World Grand Prix titles from 2010-2012, with Brazil finishing runners-up each time. Brazil had won five of the six previous titles, lifting the trophy from 2004-06 and 2008-09 following earlier triumphs in 1994, 1996 and 1998.

 

China, who won their sole World Grand Prix title in 2003, will face Serbia 10 days after the pair played out a five-set thriller in Wuhan. Last Sunday, the hosts beat the European champions 3-2 (25-17, 25-27, 25-20, 23-25, 15-5) to top Pool N and the Preliminary Round standings after winning all nine games this month.

China (red) beat Serbia 3-1 in Wuhan in the teams’ final Preliminary Round match on August 18.

China (red) beat Serbia 3-1 in Wuhan in the teams’ final Preliminary Round match on August 18.

Serbia, who finished third on their competition debut in 2011, beat China in the two previous World Grand Prix encounters between the pair and finished third in this year’s Preliminary Round standings with seven wins and two losses.

 

World No. 4 Italy, who finished fifth in the Preliminary Round, will face an opning game against World No. 3 Japan, who finished sixth, both teams winning seven matches and losing twice.

 

Italy have won two silver and four bronze medals at the World Grand Prix between 2004-10, while Japan have never medalled at the Finals. As hosts next week, Japan will play in the last game on each of the five days, starting at 7.10pm local time.

Japan captain Saori Kimura led by example in the Preliminary Round.

Japan captain Saori Kimura led by example in the Preliminary Round.

 

2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals, Sapporo, Japan (local start times)

 

Wednesday, August 28 (13:30): Serbia v China

Wednesday, August 28 (15:30): Brazil v USA

Wednesday, August 28 (19:10): Japan v Italy

 

Thursday, August 29 (13:30): USA v Serbia

Thursday, August 29 (15:30): Italy v China

Thursday, August 29 (19:10): Japan v Brazil

 

Friday, August 30 (13:30): China v USA

Friday, August 30 (15:30): Brazil v Italy

Friday, August 30 (19:10): Serbia v Japan

 

Saturday, August 31 (13:30): Italy v USA

Saturday, August 31 (15:30): Brazil v Serbia

Saturday, August 31 (19:10): Japan v China

 

Sunday, September 1 (13:30): Serbia v Italy

Sunday, September 1 (15:30): China v Brazil

Sunday, September 1 (19:10): USA v Japan

 

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