Bangkok, Thailand, July 4, 2016 – The United States are set to make their FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix title defence in Bangkok from July 6 to 10 at the Indoor Stadium Huamark, against a resilient cast of finalists, which comprise of China, Russia, Brazil, the Netherlands and hosts Thailand.
USA, which captured the title on home soil in Omaha last year, remain to be the top favourites in the competition. The reigning world champions had a prolific stint during the preliminary round, as they topped Group 1 standings with eight victories and one loss. They are grouped with the Netherlands and China in Pool K1.
USA will go up against European side the Netherlands on the opening match of the Final Six on Wednesday, then will face their toughest preliminary round rivals China on June 8.
China were denied of a sweep of the preliminary round by USA after the latter posted a straight-sets win on June 26. The Chinese had an 8-1 win-loss card prior to their entry to the final round and have been impressive so far, as they are bannered by a solid ensemble of young players. They are looking to improve their performance against the defending champions but will face the Netherlands first on July 7.
The Netherlands made their way to Group 1 after they won the Group 2 finals last year, and are showing no signs of slowing down, as they qualified to this year’s Final Six in striking form. They held a 5-4 win record and are living up to everyone’s expectations as the tournament’s dark horse. The team have shown vast improvement in various tournaments and have made huge upsets in the World Grand Prix with top calibre teams like Turkey, Italy and Thailand in the preliminary round.
Meanwhile, Russia are also seeking to improve last year’s silver medal finish and they are set to conquer Pool J1 against Brazil and the host team Thailand. The Russians finished the preliminary round in the top three with an 8-1 card. They suffered their only loss against European rivals Serbia in thrilling five sets in Kyoto, but since then the Russians ensured their place in the Final Six with victories over Thailand and Japan. They will face their rivals Brazil on July 7, then will play the hosts on July 8.
Multi-titled Brazil are also looking strong after they posted a 7-2 record in the preliminary round. The Brazilians will certainly bank on the experience of their seasoned players to come up with a positive finish before they defend their Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro next month. They will play against the home team in the main header on the opening day of the Final Six, before renewing their rivalry with Russia on July 7.
Hosts Thailand are set make a remarkable feat in front of their home fans, as they host the Group 1 finals for the very first time. The Thai team is fielding in a mix of their top veterans and promising youngsters. Thailand will continue to capitalise on the cheerful atmosphere in the stadium and the all-out support of their fans.
The top two teams from each pool will qualify to the semifinals on July 9, then classification and finals set on Sunday, July 10.