Four teams decided for Group 2 World Grand Prix Finals in Bulgaria


China and the United States posted their second consecutive victories in Pool A1 at Ningbo

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 11, 2016 – Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Poland and Bulgaria have now been confirmed for the Group 2 Finals as Saturday’s World Grand Prix action is brought to a close. 

Table leaders Puerto Rico, unbeaten in five matches, in addition to the Dominican Republic and Poland, each with a 4-1 win-loss record so far, booked their place in the Group 2 Finals on Saturday, June 18. Currently occupying the top three positions in the current Group 2 standings, they will be joined by Bulgaria who are already qualified for the Finals as hosts. The matches will be held at the Palace of Culture and Sports in Varna.

And the Group 3 finalists are also taking shape with just one day to go till this weekend’s World Grand Prix action wraps up. Croatia, Peru and Kazakhstan are already set to take part in the Finals matches on June 18.

Croatia and Peru have already cemented themselves in the top three of the group standings, each with five wins in five matches so far. Kazakhstan are in third place with four victories, but are qualified as organisers of the final four tournament anyway.

With three of the four teams already known, Sunday’s volleyball action will decide whether it is Colombia or Cuba completing the four team line up. Colombia are the most likely team to join them in Almaty as they only need to win two sets at home in Cali on Sunday against Kazakhstan to book their ticket to the semis, even if their closest rivals Cuba beat Algeria in straight sets.

Kazakhstan's old capital Almaty will host the four teams next weekend that will be vying to move up in the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix hierarchy.

The top teams are also pulling away from the pack in Group 1 as China, United States and Russia have joined Brazil to also posted two successive wins in Group 1. China and USA hold the same records in Pool A1, while Russia are the remaining side in Pool C1 that have kept their winning run.

Match Centres:
USA beat Thailand 3-0 (25-21, 29-27, 25-23) Match Centre
China beat Germany 3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-16) Match Centre
Netherlands beat Turkey 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-22) Match Centre
Russia beat Belgium 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-16) Match Centre
Dominican Republic v Canada 3-0 (25-16, 27-25, 25-21) Match Centre
Bulgaria beat Czech Republic 3-1 (25-22, 25-16, 23-25, 25-19) Match Centre
Puerto Rico beat Argentina 3-1 (30-28, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22) Match Centre
Poland beat Kenya 3-0 (25-18, 25-10, 25-14) Match Centre
Kazakhstan beat Mexico 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 26-28, 25-20) Match Centre
Colombia beat Australia 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-15) Match Centre
Croatia beat Algeria 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-15) Match Centre
Peru beat Cuba 3-2 (25-14, 23-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-6) Match Centre

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Hosts China utilised their home court advantage to produce a straight-set (25-12, 25-22, 25-16) win over Germany in Pool A1 of Group 1. Zhu Ting top scored once again for China with 13 points. The Chinese net defence was seamless against the Germans, as they mounted 15 solid blocks. Zhang Changning, Xu Yunli and Yuan Xinyue had four stuff blocks each.

Even though China easily took this match with Germany, coach Lang Ping takes every match seriously to gauge and improve the team.

“For us, every game is a good test and a way to find our weakness,” coach Lang said. “We will go back to analyse how we can make continued progress.”

USA came up with their second victory at the expense of Thailand in straight sets (25-21, 29-27, 25-23). Four USA players – Karsta Lowe, Jordan Larson-Burbach, Christa Harmotto Dietzen and Rachael Adams – scored in double-figures to hold off the tough Thai team. USA will settle Pool A1 leadership with China on Sunday.

Russia defeated Belgium 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-16) to lead Pool C1 standings in Kaliningrad. The Russians showed excellent teamwork as their first six had scoring balance. Russia had a total of 13 blocks, including Anastasia Shlyakhovaya’s five and Irina Zharyazhko’s four shot deflections.

The Netherlands thumped Turkey 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-22) but coach Giovanni Guidetti is not satisfied with his team’s performance.

“The game was difficult for us, but it is always difficult when you give your opponents 10 points per set by your own mistakes,” coach Guidetti said. “We were better in all other elements but those unforced errors gave the Turkish team an opportunity to stay close.”

Puerto Rico continue to lead in Group 2, as they kept their winning streak when they defeated Argentina 3-1 (30-28, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22) in Pool D2. Karina Ocasio had a prolific scoring night for Puerto Rico as she notched 26 points, including 19 attacks, four blocks and three service aces.

Poland, Dominican Republic and Bulgaria maintained their 4-1 records after their respective victories.

Poland trounced Kenya 3-0 (25-18, 25-10, 25-14) in Pool D2. Poland coach Jacek Nawrocki used the opportunity to field in his other players and give their top scorer Berenika Tomsia some rest. Nevertheless, the results still favoured the European side as Malwin Smarzek and Tamara Kaliszuk stepped up for the win.

Dominican Republic safeguarded their winning run as they routed Canada 3-0 (25-16, 27-25, 25-21) in Pool C2. Dominican captain Bethania De La Cruz topped all scorers with 17 points, while Michaela Reesor of Canada scored 10 points.

Bulgaria recovered from their previous loss and won 3-1 (25-22, 25-16, 23-25, 25-19) over Czech Republic. Five Bulgarian players had a double-digit haul, with Emiliya Nikolova and Eva Yaneva scoring 19 and 17 points, respectively. Michaela Mlejnkova and Eva Hodanova led Czech Republic with 14 and nine points, respectively.

In Group 3, Kazakhstan and Colombia won in Pool C3. Kazakhstan defeated Mexico 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 26-28, 25-20), while Colombia outplayed Australia 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-15).

Croatia and Peru maintained their winning runs with their defeat of Algeria 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-15) and Cuba 3-2 (25-14, 23-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-6) in Pool D3.

Croatia had an easy win over Algeria, as Karla Klaric logged 20 markers, which comprise of 12 attacks, one block and seven aces. Croatia also blocked a total of 12 Algerian spikes.

Peru took the first set in their encounter with Cuba, but dropped the succeeding two sets. Peru recovered in the final two sets, as Angela Leyva and Maguilaura Frias notched 28 and 20 points, respectively. The Peruvian tandem outscored the 25-point effort of Cuban phenom Melissa Vargas.

Player statistics Group 1 Group 2 Group 3

Top Scorer by Day 
31 - Angela Leyva of Peru v Kazakhstan on June 3 
25 - Bethania De La Cruz De Peña of Dominican Republic v Argentina on June 4 
29 – Berenika Tomsia of Poland v Puerto Rico on June 5 
20 - Sarina Koga of Japan v Serbia on June 9
31 – Berenika Tomsia of Poland v Argentina on June 10
28 – Angela Leyva of Peru v Cuba on June 11

Top Scoring Performances 
31 - Angela Leyva of Peru v Kazakhstan on June 3 
31 – Berenika Tomsia of Poland v Argentina on June 10
29 – Berenika Tomsia of Poland v Puerto Rico on June 5
28 – Angela Leyva of Peru v Cuba on June 11
26 – Karina Ocasio of Puerto Rico v Argentina on June 11
26 – Heidy Rodriguez Lopez of Cuba v Colombia on June 5 
26 - Emiliya Nikolova of Bulgaria v Dominican Republic on June 3 

Top Individual Serving Performances 
7 – Karla Klaric of Croatia v Algeria on June 11
6 – Ana Grejman of Poland v Canada on June 3 
5 – Martyna Grajber of Poland v Argentina on June 10
5 – Yael Castiglione of Argentina v Dominican Republic on June 4 
4 – Aydinlar Nursevil of Turkey v Belgium on June 10

Top Team Serving Performances 
13 – Croatia v Cuba on June 3 
12 – Kazakhstan v Algeria on June 4 
11- Poland v Argentina on June 10
9 – Croatia v Algeria on June 11
9 – Peru v Cuba on June 11
9 – Bulgaria v Argentina on June 5 

Top Individual Blocking Performances 
7 – Cristina Chirichella of Italy v Serbia on June 10
7 - Fabiana Claudino of Brazil v Italy on June 9
7 – Daimara Lescay Cajigal of Cuba v Colombia on June 5
7 - Candida Estefany Arias Perez of Dominican Republic v Bulgaria on June 3 
6 – Christa Harmotto Dietzen of United States v Thailand on June 11
6 – Heidy Casanova Alvarez of Cuba v Peru on June 11
6 – Daimara Lescay Cajigal of Cuba v Peru on June 11
6 – Julieta Lascano of Argentina v Poland on June 10

Top Team Blocking Performances 
19 – Cuba v Peru on June 11
19 – Italy v Serbia on June 10
18 – Poland v Czech Republic on June 4
17 - Brazil v Italy on June 9
16 – Poland v Argentina on June 10
16 – Poland v Canada on June 3 
16 – Peru v Algeria on June 5 

Highest Scoring Sets 
31-29 – Serbia v Italy on June 10
31-29 – Japan v Serbia on June 9
30-28 – Puerto Rico v Argentina on June 11
30-28 – Canada v Poland on June 3 
29-27 – United States v Thailand on June 11

Highest Scoring Matches 
211 – Poland v Argentina 3-2 (25-23, 24-26, 25-15, 23-25, 15-10) on June 10
213 – Puerto Rico v Poland 3-2 (18-25, 25-23, 15-25, 28-26, 15-13) on June 5 
206 - Dominican Republic v Argentina 3-2 (22-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-15, 23-25, 16-14) on June 4 
202 – Bulgaria v Dominican Republic 3-2 (23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 17-25) on June 3


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