2017 WORLD GRAND CHAMPIONS CUP
- Women – September 5-9
- Men – September 12-17
- Nagoya and Osaka, Japan
- Women – Schedule/Results
- Men – Schedule
- Power Rankings
- Day 1
- Day 2 Preview
- Day 2
- Day 3 Preview
- Day 3
- Day 4 Preview
- Day 4 Recap
- Day 5 Preview
As a testament to its dominance of the volleyball world, Brazil has run FIVB’s World Grand Champions Cup for the fourth straight time. Matter of fact, in its seven editions, Brazil has never finished outside of the podium. Having won an Olympic gold medal only last year, with a squad that mixes veteran talent and youngsters very well, when will this dominance ever be challenged? It doesn’t seem like anytime soon.
Menwhile, all that Team USA needed against a depleted Italian squad was a win to clinch a podium spot. Coach John Speraw did try everything in his arsenal, even turning to its bench, which corresponded greatly, with Benjamin Patch and Kawika Shoji having a great game, but it wasn’t enough. At the end, it is safe to say that Team USA greatly underachieved with its 4th place finish.
Below, you’ll find WGCC’s final standings, full videos, and FIVB recaps from all of the day’s action.
Brazil x Japan
Lucas Saatkamp and Mauricio Borges played great defense to complete their fourth-straight title winning run in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup, following their 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-22) win over hosts Japan. Lucas had four blocks and Mauricio made three blocks out of Brazil’s 12 total blocks against Japan. Lucas top scored with 16 points, while Mauricio finished with 13 points. Brazil converted 43 attacks and nailed four aces, while Japan struggled to get their offence going with only Issei Otake scoring in double figures. Otake charted 10 points, but Akihiro Yamauchi and Masahiro Yanagida only scored six and four points, respectively.
Brazil showed that they were on a mission to win the title, as their blockers jammed the path of the Japanese attacks, which facilitated their huge winning margins. After showing excellent defense, Brazil asserted their dominance on offence. Even though Japan gave Brazil a great fight towards the end, the latter still finished the match in straight sets. Brazil has completed all seven editions of the Men’s World Grand Champions Cup with podium finishes, making them the most successful team in the history of the competition.
Here are the post match reactions:
Brazil coach Renan Dal Zotto: Overall, I think this has been a fantastic competition. The technical level was very high and we had a rematch of the Olympic final so being able to win such a title makes me very happy. In today’s match against Japan, we knew we had to win so we were a bit nervous. We were playing the home team, so it was a difficult game, but we were doing our best and were able to win. The third set was very competitive but we were able to prevail. I want to congratulate the hard work of the Brazilian team throughout this competition.
Brazil captain Bruno Rezende: We kept our focus in this match. We knew that Japan are a quality team and have high respect for them, that’s why we kept our composure in the first two sets. In the third set, Japan started to apply pressure on us and their service got better. That put us in a tough situation but we were able to fight through it and win. Japan are in a new cycle and they seem to have some new, younger and taller players. They seem to be heavier. Last time we played them, they seemed a bit lightweight and not so tall. They always made up for this with good defense but at this level of competition you need height. For us, we’ve added younger players to the Olympic team and this new generation of players have started to blend well and it’s a good start for our campaign for Tokyo 2020.
Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi: We knew that playing against world No. 1 Brazil would be an uphill battle. Until the end of the third set, we couldn’t show what we wanted to do, but in the end the players were shouting out loud and really expressing themselves. But it was too little, too late. However, I think the players realized the meaning of expressing themselves like this. Today, Naonobu Fujii and Haku Ri allowed Bruno and Lucas to do what they wanted. We used Taishi Onodera for a lengthy outing and gave him more of a chance. When they targeted him with their service, his lack of technique and rough edges showed. However, when he was on court, Brazil’s offence shifted to the middle and left, so his presence did have an impact.
Looking towards Tokyo 2020, we need more tall players like Onodera. Overall in this competition, in the first half Ishikawa couldn’t get going, so we kind of lost direction as a result and that showed our immaturity as a team. Maybe also our conditioning was poor and we need to think more about that especially before major competitions. It was our first opportunity this year to play against top-level teams and obviously the players realised the gap there is between them and us. We want to face more teams with height and power and find ways out of our problems. We need to develop players like Onodera.
Japan player Issei Otake: In today’s game, I was too conscious that the oppositions were Brazil, so I was a bit nervous. I calmed down as match went on but I was still a bit anxious. In the third set, we organised our thoughts better and competed better and that’s the way we should do it.
Japan player Noanobu Fujii: Today’s match really reminded me of my lack of ability. At this level, the middle blockers are all tall, so they are a level or two above my level. Also, at this level, the serves are so strong so responding to that is tough.
Japan player Taishi Onodera: Today’s match was against the world No. 1, Brazil, and having changed position just a month ago, it was a great experience for me. However, I didn’t play as well as I wanted and there are many things I have to resolve.
Italy x Team USA
Italy’s Filippo Lanza stood out in the match against USA on Sunday with 16 points that helped them earn a 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 29-27) triumph. Lanza scored all of his 16 points from the attack line, including the crucial hit that snatched the lead in the fourth set. Oleg Antonov and Luca Vettori contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively. USA hitters Aaron Russell and Benjamin Patch each scored 16 points, but the team’s turnovers errors affected them in crucial moments in the game.
Italy started with a cluster of points, but later on suffered with a string of errors. They Europeans recovered in time to win the set as Daniele Mazzone racked up some points from the middle. Italy gained a 2-0 edge as they played with great balance on offence and defense, but USA avoided the shutout when Benjamin Patch scored on two massive swings. The fourth set went down to the wire as both squads had an intense exchange of points, but a net touch by USA gave away set and match to Italy. Although by the finish of the game Italy temporarily occupied the top of WGCC standings, Brazil still hadn’t played its game against Japan, which they won, and ultimately landed the Italians the silver medal. Team USA finished fourth, outside out of the podium.
Here are the post match reactions:
Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blengini: I am completely happy with today’s win. I’m very proud of my players because they performed so well in a very important match. It’s been a tough year for us and we’ve had some hard situations to deal with, but the team showed patience and continued to play the volleyball we wanted to play. Once Ben Patch came in, he put us in a lot of trouble, not so much tactically but because of his technical abilities. They also changed the setter to Kawika Shoji and he is a top player, so that put more pressure on us. However, we stayed in the match and controlled it. We knew we couldn’t block Patch every time so we had to try and get a touch when he didn’t spike so well. Even when we were down, we fought hard to the end and because of this I’m very satisfied with my players. They went through a lot this year so they deserve it more than anything.
Italy player Daniele Mazzone: It was a good game. It was also a tense game as we usually have when we play USA. At the start, we put them in a lot of trouble but after that we were the ones in trouble. Overall, I think we did well in counter-attack and our service was pretty good, so I am happy with the result today.
Italy player Filippo Lanza: It was a great game today. I think both teams played well. It all came down to two or three plays where we were better. I’m very satisfied with the result today.
USA coach John Speraw: I don’t think we started in the right emotional place. We had a really tough match yesterday and I’m not sure we came out in peak performance. I was really pleased with some of the players coming off the bench. Sometimes that’s what you need in a tournament with a format like this. You have to have good bench players. I thought Ben Patch did great once he got going, so did Kawika Shoji. I think we had some great performances off the bench, which allowed us to get back into the match, but I’m disappointed with the way things went at the end. Italy played well. They served well and put us under pressure. We did passing really, really well throughout the course of this tournament. Italy served great and made some great defensive plays towards the end.
USA captain David Smith: It was a good match even though we didn’t get the result we wanted, but I’m really proud of my guys. We had to overcome our fatigue but I thought we had good focus. They were just a little better than us, so congratulations to them.
USA player Micah Christenson: It was a tough match. We had a lot of fatigue after lots of games in just a few days. At the same time, we had an opportunity to play and to be on the medal stand but we didn’t execute things as we wanted to. We didn’t have as much energy as we wanted to but that’s something we can learn from. We have a young group of players and we’re lucky that it’s the first year of the quad, so we have to learn in these important tournaments.
Iran x France
Amir Ghafour excelled in Iran’s 3-2 (38-36, 25-23, 22-25, 25-27, 15-11) win over France to finish with a bronze medal in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup. Iran had five players that scored in double figures led by Ghafour, who finished with 24 points. Seyed Eraghi and M. Manavinezhad notched 20 and 19 points, then Milad Ebadipour and Saman Faezi added 12 points each. France also had five double-digit scorers, led by Trevor Clevenot and Stephen Boyer, who made 25 and 21 points, respectively.
Iran and France had an intense duel in the opening set, which had to be decided with a two-point margin. Iran got better breaks and closed the set 38-36. The second set had another tight contest, but Iran still prevailed with the help of Ghafour and Manavinezhad. The French side retaliated with victories in the next two sets as Clevenot and Boyer persistently scored from the wings. Iran regained its composure and celebrated their bronze medal triumph with the victory in the fifth set.
Here are the post match reactions:
Iran coach Igor Kolakovic: It was a very interesting and high-quality volleyball game. I’m so happy because we finished with a victory. After the game between USA and Italy, we knew we already had the bronze medal, so I asked the players if they wanted to play or not. They told me they wanted to play to win because they wanted to finish the tournament with a victory. So that makes me happy.
We’ve had a lot of problems with injury and not much time for recovery. But we finished the year in the best way, for Iran and the Iranian people. This is very important because the people have supported the Iran team and they deserve this medal as much as the players. This first medal for Iran is very important, so this tournament win was important for Iranian volleyball. And it provides us with extra motivation for next season and for our young players.
Iran captain Saeid Marouf: We knew it would be a tough match. All five sets were so close and both teams played great volleyball. It was very important to finish this competition with a victory and finally take a medal. So, I’m very happy and proud of my team. We did our best. It’s important for us. Iran had success in junior world tournaments but never in a senior one, so this makes it important. Our people followed our matches and enjoyed it, but without a medal there was something wrong, but now we’ve done that.
France coach Laurent Tillie: The result today was a pity but we showed great volleyball with great team performance and we put on quite a spectacle. Technically, France were able to show their strong points, but Iran are a strong team with great potential and I think they played at their best today. I’m satisfied with the performance of my players. We could have won the game, but it’s been a joy to play in this World Grand Champions Cup in Japan and we look forward to the next edition.
France captain Benjamin Toniutti: It’s a great shame about today but it was a superb match. France played great today and we were able to show we are a great team. We really showed our tenacity until the end. There were sets we could have won but couldn’t, so that’s why we lost. We have a new generation of players and we did well in the World League but not so well in the European Championship. But our younger players really played well and we will keep going and keep practicing so we can develop.
I hope that with this medal, the hearts of all Iranian people are happy, not just volleyball fans. Success can be measured by the process, not just end point. Hoping for more success.
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Une fin d'été compliquée mais on est resté ensemble dans l'adversité on retiendra cette qualification au championnat du monde et cette deuxième médaille d'or en ligue mondiale. La nouvelle génération est là on va continuer a travailler pour encore aller chercher des médailles dans le futur
A complicated late summer but we are staying together in adversity. Still we qualified for the world championship and won a second gold medal in the world league. The new generation is the one we will continue to with to still pick up medals in the future