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
We have periodically warned our readers of Iran’s rise to volleyball prominence. Yesterday, it added another chapter to its up and coming volleyball resume, coming from behind 2-0 to hand Team USA its first defeat of the tournament. Now, it has a real chance at the title, which would be amazing, considering its competition. That being said, Team USA cannot go up 2-0 and not close the game if they have bigger ambitions than just being one of the various underachieving teams for this upcoming Olympic cycle.
Meanwhile, Italy avenged its Olympic final loss to Brazil, also in five sets. Italy played with a young and inexperienced team, lacking veteran players. This same team, who didn’t make it past Euros quarterfinals a few weeks ago, handed a full powered Brazil its first loss of the tournament, showing just how unstable Brazil can be at times.
Below, you’ll find updated standings, FIVB recaps, and full match videos from all of the day’s action.
Team USA x Iran
Milad Ebadipour boosted Iran’s confidence to record a 3-2 (20-25, 17-25, 27-25, 25-21, 15-12) win over USA. Ebadipour, who was contained by USA in the first two sets, stepped up on offence and finished with 18 points. Amir Ghafour and M. Manavinezhad were among the Iranian players vital in comeback, scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Matthew Anderson and Taylor Sander made 17 points apiece on a losing effort.
Iran maintained their clean win-record, while USA dropped to 1-1 in the 2017 edition of the World Grand Champions Cup. Five of Iran’s six wins at the tournament have come in five sets. USA fielded in a powerful combination of players led by Sander and Anderson who dominated in attacks to overwhelm Iran in the first two sets. USA led in the third set but lost its grip as Iran setter Saied Marouf made brilliant plays for his hitters. Ebadipour made up for his previous attack mistake to put Iran ahead at 27-26, until Manvinezhad’s strong spike close the set in their favor. Iran had momentum on their side and took advantage of USA’s string of errors to win the last two sets.
Here are the post match reactions:
Iran captain Saeid Marouf: It was an unbelievable match, so I’m happy we won it. In the first two sets, we didn’t have anything. They killed us with their serve and side-out and they were amazing. After that, we played without fear and to our full potential. Our substitutes did well today and all the players helped us in this victory, so I’m happy. Congratulations to all Iranians, to my team and the staff.
Iran coach Igor Kolakovic: It was such a difficult game. There were two different parts of the game. I have to say USA played unbelievable on reception, side-out and service in the first two sets. I talked to my players and told them if they played like that, there wasn’t much we could do, so we had to wait for opportunities. I told them they would give us opportunities for sure because they can’t play at that high level all the time. And we did that.
USA coach John Speraw: We came out and played some really great volleyball in the first two sets, particularly passing the ball. We just played great. I think we will look back on a period of about two minutes in the third set when we were up and there was a little bit of lack of focus. In that moment, Iran took advantage and made some good plays, particularly Amir Ghafour. We didn’t play bad volleyball from that point; we just didn’t score any points. Our offence continued to be OK, but not as good as earlier. But Iran played great volleyball from that point on offensively and we struggled to score points.
USA captain David Smith: I think we came out well with a continuation from last night. In the third set, Iran made some substitutions and we couldn’t match them tactically and emotionally. All credit to them for staying in the match. It’s something we have to learn to do better.
USA player Matt Anderson: We came out with pretty high energy and executed our game plan. They changed some players, forcing us to adapt; unfortunately, we weren’t able to. At that point, they started to play really aggressively and we didn’t match them. They put pressure on us and we didn’t step up when we needed to.
Brazil x Italy
Luca Vettori collected 27 points to lead Italy to a 3-2 (15-25, 27-25, 27-25, 18-25, 15-12) win over defending champions Brazil. Vettori scored 21 points from the attack line, then added four blocks and two aces for Italy, which also got a great point contribution from Filippo Lanza who scored 21 points. Brazil’s Wallace Souza and Ricardo Lucarelli finished with 19 and 17 points, respectively. All four encounters between Italy and Brazil at the World Grand Champions Cup were decided in five sets. Italy have now levelled the series with Brazil at World Grand Champions Cup with their latest five-set victory.
Italy led at the start of the first set as Vettori scored well, but Brazil made a great run to win with more players scoring on all angles. Lanza helped Vettori run the Italian offence, while the others performed a good service and blocking game to secure the next two sets. Wallace and Lucarelli stepped up on offence to force the tie-breaker, but Vettori’s spike and attack gave the Italians the momentum in the fifth set to complete the match victory.
Here are the post match reactions:
Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blengini: I must say I am very satisfied with the result. Obviously, the result is the thing that makes us happiest, but the game was very even. Service made the difference in the match. We made some mistakes so we needed to serve well, especially when you play against a team like Brazil. I always tell my players it’s important to know when to serve hard and when not to, but consistency is also important. In the tie-break, we took a risk with our serve but it paid off and we won.
Every match is different for us. Today wasn’t an Olympic final but it’s always a pleasure to play top teams like Brazil. It gives a shot of adrenaline, stimulation and the will to compete with such teams. We are here to fight and to make progress and play against the best teams in the world, so I told my players to fight in every situation, whether the game is going good or bad. We have to make things difficult for our opponents and we did that today. We didn’t do it yesterday even though we took two sets.
Italy captain Simone Buti: We really wanted to have a great match today after the disappointing match yesterday. It’s always difficult against Brazil and apart from the first set, it was a very even match. Every set went down to the wire and I was glad we could take the tie-break. Comparing the game to yesterday, the major difference was better service. Service is very important and these two matches have shown that. Yesterday, we couldn’t serve well while Iran were constantly getting good serves in. Today, the service was crucial and we were able to get good serves in on the most important points, which led to our win. Now we can go to Osaka with high hopes.
Italy player Simone Giannelli: I’m very happy about today’s result. We played against a great team, which are very hard to beat and have some great players. I’m happy to win this match and I was happy we were able to have fun on court today. Losing yesterday was very disappointing so it was important to get back on track. We still have three very difficult games to come so I hope we can do well in Osaka.
Brazil coach Renan Dal Zotto: I think today’s game was very equal; it was a see-saw game. But I think they deserved to win. Italy’s service was particularly hard to deal with, but also they played patiently at the crucial moments. I think the game could have gone either way and I think both teams remain as contenders for the title.
Brazil captain Bruno Rezende: Congratulations to Italy for their win. I think their strategy was clear: To serve well and hope to disrupt our reception, and it succeeded. Service was the decisive factor today and Italy gave us a tough time. Our defence was off and it was difficult for the setter to set well. Our reception was not good and they were able to score with aces. But in this competition in 2013, we also lost to them and went on to win the title, so we’re not giving up. We have three games to come and we hope to win three more.
France x Japan
Trevor Clevenot and Barthelemy Chinenyeze led France to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-23) win over hosts Japan. Clevenot and Chinenyeze had identical 14-point outputs, but played with different missions to help their squad earn their first ever win in the tournament. Clevenot was solid in attacks, while Chinenyeze took care of defense with five blocks. Stephen Boyer and Thibault Rossard added 13 points each for France. Takashi Dekita, who came off the bench in the first set, top scored for Japan with 14 points.
In their first encounter at the World Grand Champions Cup, France came up with a straight-set win. France have also extended their winning streak over Japan at world level with their 10th victory in their last 11 matches. The French side claimed the first set as they hustled on defence to set up Chinenyeze on offence. Benjamin Toniutti went for balance in running the plays, which involved Boyer, Clevenot and Rossard in scoring; but a couple of errors allowed Japan to trail closely. France still got the final breaks to win the set with a slim lead at 25-23. Another tight third set ensued as Japan continued to fight back against France, but the latter still sealed match victory.
Here are the post match reactions:
France coach Laurent Tillie: Volleyball is an extraordinary sport. Sometimes you play well then sometimes you play badly. It’s a mental sport. In the European Championship, we didn’t play too well and it looked like we had lost our direction. But against a very good Japan team, we seem to have rediscovered our fluidity. So I think this result is significant.
We played very well today and I was particularly pleased with the second and third sets in which we fought hard with Japan. I think Japan have been raising their level year by year. We played Japan in 2014 and I seem to recall they weren’t so great, but I think in 2015, 2016 and 2017, they have evolved as a team and are becoming more effective. They always have a problem of height, but they have speed, technique and good defense. I adore their fighting spirit. Whether they are winning or losing, they always fight as one.
France captain Benjamin Toniutti: It was important to get this win today, so I am satisfied with the result. In the beginning, we played perfectly but then Japan got better, especially with their service. Somehow we kept our concentration and played well, so I’m happy to win 3-0.
Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi: After our loss yesterday, we had some meetings in which we considered what we had to do to show our strengths. At the start of the match, the players were nervous like yesterday. I really thought we’d start better today, but that shows the immaturity of the team. Yuki Ishikawa didn’t get going as well as we’d hoped he would and as a result the team’s performance didn’t pick up either. He’s still far from his real self because of the injury to his lower back. His jumping is not up to scratch and the opposition today targeted him.
In terms of tactics, we have to return the second ball to the setter properly. If we can get the ball to the setter, we could be better but we didn’t do that. We need our service to be more aggressive. Also, our blocking hasn’t been well coordinated and I think there are balls we could have blocked. It continues to be a big issue for us.
Japan player Naonobu Fujii: We could have won today’s game but we made mistakes and that made it difficult for us to break through. When we play top teams, we have to play better than we did today or we’re not going to make much progress.
Japan player Takashi Dekita: In the first set, we let them play as they wanted but in the second and third sets we competed better. But we have to start winning these difficult sets. The fact that we can’t at the moment suggests that there’s still a lot we have to do. We got more side-outs in the second and third sets and we had chances, but we really have to capitalize on these chances. Yesterday, we had no spirit but I think we had some today.
Japan player Masahiro Yanagida: We failed to handle easy balls when things were in our favor so that narrowed our attacking options and we couldn’t penetrate their defense. We still need to grow and become a bigger threat. The team failed to come together at crucial moments so we need to help each other more so we feel less pressure.