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
Round robin tournaments can sometimes be very unfair. Brazil, Italy, and Iran all have the same records in the tournament, 3 wins and 1 losses. The difference? Brazil won its games while losing less sets, therefore will most certainly clinch the title tomorrow morning against the tournament’s punching bag Japan , even though Italy, Iran, and even the United States all have mathematical chances at the title. For all possible title scenarios, read our analysis here.
Meanwhile, below you’ll find updated pools, match videos, and FIVB recaps from all of the day’s action.
Team USA x Brazil
AN INSTANT CLASSIC! Team USA’s encounter was nothing like the one sided USAV Cup. Instead, fans were treated to a five set war in Osaka. Wallace Souza had a team-high 22 points in Brazil’s 3-2 (28-26, 15-25, 25-20, 22-25, 15-13) win over USA in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup at the Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium on Saturday Wallace showed some clutch skills at crucial moments of the game. In all, he had 19 kills and three blocks. Mauricio Borges, Ricardo Lucarelli and Lucas Saatkamp helped Wallace out with 18, 16 and 12 points, respectively. USA’s Matthew Anderson topped all scorers with 27 points. Full stats here and here.
USA and Brazil ran different attack strategies. USA’s set plays were directed to Anderson, while Brazil’s offence involved more players. Brazil succeeded with the strategy and closed the first set with a two-point margin, but USA responded with a set victory as Anderson continued to convert on his attempts. The next two sets resulted to split victories that led to the match decider, where Brazil prevailed with a 15-13 score.
This win all but gives Brazil the title, as they will play Japan in their next game, a sure win. The Italians are the only ones with a real chance of threatening them, but they would need to win its games against France and The USA 3-0 and still hope for Brazil to lose at least a set against the Japanese team – an unlikely feat, since Japan has only won one set in the tournament se far.
Here are the post match reactions:
Brazil coach Renan Dal Zotto: I’m very satisfied and pleased with the win today. It was an excellent game that could have gone either way. I think we were lucky in the tie-break but more effective in serving and that gave us the advantage. In the end, the final set came down to just two plays.
Brazil captain Bruno Rezende: It was a very close game because we know each other so well. USA are very strong, with great serving and power in attacking. They have some great attackers and a really good setter. The difference came down to a few meticulous plays. We had chances to win in the fourth set but weren’t able to capitalise on those as we made mistakes. But in the fifth set, we were able to play with intelligence and so were able to win.
Brazil player Lucas Saatkamp: It was a very fiercely contested game today. We’ve played each other many times, so we know each other very well. I think the decisive factor was service; when our serve was stable, we won sets and when their serve was good, they won. We’ve been focusing on our serve for a long time now so we can serve well when needed.
USA coach John Speraw: I’m disappointed because I thought we played much better than we had earlier in the tournament. We had opportunities, particularly in the first set that we let get away. I was pleased to come back and take the fourth set, but there are just some elements of our system that aren’t where they need to be and as a result we lost too many scoring opportunities. We served well and passed well and our block is much improved after focusing on that in the summer. So, there were some positives but we’re disappointed that we couldn’t score a couple more points.
USA captain David Smith: Even though we didn’t come out on top, it was a very good volleyball match with both teams playing at a very high level. Brazil challenged us in so many ways. The margins are very small and the difference between winning and losing was just one or two points. We’re going to have to learn from today and come back stronger next time.
Italy x France
Luca Vettori brought in his A-game against rivals France to register a 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-21) triumph. He had 24 points, including 22 attacks, a block and an ace to provide Italy’s third straight victory in four matches. Filippo Lanza and Oleg Antonov helped out Vettori, scoring 14 points apiece. Young opposite hitter Jean Patry top scored fro France with 21 points. Italy’s three-match winning streak is their first at the World Grand Champions Cup since winning their first seven matches. The only time they won three competitive matches in a row was at the European Championship last August.
France showed excellent blocking form to grab the lead from Italy, then Patry’s great scoring leadership helped in their last minute run to win the opening set. Italy’s Vettori challenged Patry to a scoring showdown in the next two sets, where the former steered the team to back-to-back victories. By the fourth set, Vettori had slowed down on offence, but his Antonov and Lanza took over to ensure Italy’s fourth set win.
Here are the post match reactions:
Italy coach Gian Blengini: First, I’m very happy with the result. It’s always important to get the result but this was also important in regard to the standings. It was a tough game. The French were fresh and obviously had quality players in good condition. We fought in a difficult situation at the start of the match and in the fourth set when we were four points up before France tied the game. But we kept our concentration and were then able to defend, so we’re able to win. Now, we have to think about tomorrow’s match.
Italy player Filippo Lanza: It was a tough game today. France played well in some instances but we stayed with them, made the breakthrough and were able to keep our advantage from there. More importantly, it gave us a lot of hope for the next game against the USA but we must show the same mental strength against USA.
France coach Laurent Tillie: Today was a very disappointing result but I feel we played well. Service reception was both good and bad for both sides, but Italy had some big moments with service and that was the big difference. Italy are a mature team with plenty of experience while we had younger players and I think that also made a difference. I’m sad about the result today but our younger players should be encouraged because they played well.
France captain Benjamin Toniutti: It’s disappointing that we lost today’s match. France’s players had an average age of 22 or 23, so we had a very young team on court. Italy’s service was really good and they didn’t make many mistakes. We can see now issues we have to work on, but we hope to finish with a win against Iran tomorrow.
Iran x Japan
Amir Ghafour topped all scorers with 23 points that boosted Iran’s 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-14) win over Japan. Ghafour had a solid performance from the attack line as he scored 21 spikes. He also helped out on defense with two stuff blocks. Iran had a total of 13 blocks, including Saman Faezi’s four and Seyed Mousavi’s three. Issei Otake and Akihiro Yamauchi led Japan with 16 and 11 points, respectively. Iran and Japan most recent meeting at world level was in 2016, when Iran beat Japan in four sets in the Olympic qualifier. In their third encounter at the World Grand Champions Cup, Iran won again with the same scoreline of 3-1 against Japan.
Japan played a fast-paced game against their Asian rivals Iran in the opening set. As Masahiro Yanagida struggled on offence, setter Naonobu Fujii set up masterful plays for his other hitters, which resulted to a brilliant 25-21 win. Iran countered with solid blocks and strong spikes that rewarded them with the win. By the third set, Iran already established their ground on offence and defense that made it difficult for Japan to overcome.
Here are the post match reactions:
Iran coach Igor Kolakovic: We expected a difficult game against Japan because we needed time to adapt to their game. They are very good in defense. They are not perfect but all the time they control the ball in their field. From my experience playing with my ex-national team Serbia they are always difficult to play against especially in the first set and that was the case today, but afterward we controlled the game. I’m so happy for my players because they played a serious game and it’s not easy to play here. We have a lot of pressure tomorrow because it’s a big day for us as we try to reach a medal.
Iran captain Saeid Marouf: It’s always hard to play Japan so we knew it would be a tough match today. We didn’t have a perfect start but after that we controlled the game and the last three sets were very good for us. Our serve and reception was good today and we played our side-outs with more confidence than in other matches.
Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi: In the first set, we came out very good. We wanted to play like yesterday and Issei Otake was spiking well and we were able to take the set. But after that, their service disrupted our reception and our attacks were stopped and we fell into our usual losing pattern and gradually lost concentration. However, I was able to use Taishi Onodera and that’s something positive for the future. Apart from Yuki Ishikawa, our outside spikers are slow to block and that’s something we need to fix. We had blocking counter-measures to tackle their offence but they concentrated on our weak points and that’s also a pattern in our games. They were very efficient in attacking our weaknesses. We need to do something otherwise we are too exposed, but we have limited resources at present so we’ll look to change that next season. We have actually been practicing blocking a lot since May but the return hasn’t been good enough. The players’ hands are late or not forward enough. We’ve improved some things but in this competition our block hasn’t functioned well.
In terms of fighting instinct and concentration, there’s room for improvement and we’re trying to change. But there’s no silver bullet, so currently we are trying to tell ourselves to be more aggressive and to improve our teamwork. In reality, we couldn’t make much progress this year, but next year we want to have a more mental approach and learn mental techniques to raise our motivation. There are techniques for learning such things, but on the court when we are faced with tough situations there should be a leader who can help others and push the other players. Unfortunately, we don’t have a clear answer to this problem yet. Strengthening the mentality of the players isn’t easy. The players must grow as persons. So we can’t just do ball training. We have to have a complete approach that involves the physical side and the mental side, as well as individual growth.
Japan player Issei Otake: In the first set, we had good momentum and we were able to show our volleyball at its best. But against their block our response became worse and their service got better. We also need to do better and score on the opportunities we have. When I spiked, I felt that if I aimed for a longer trajectory there was less chance the shot would be stopped, so I tried to find a better course and a longer trajectory. The teams we are playing in this competition are very different to the other teams we’ve played recently. Plays that worked previously haven’t worked against these teams. Personally, I couldn’t respond to certain situations and this is something I’ve learned by playing against these Olympic-level teams. So, something needs to change.
Japan player Naonobu Fujii: Today, the volleyball in the first set and the other sets were completely different. We didn’t play clever volleyball and that led to our defeat. When we play good teams, we must be more accurate and not make so many mistakes. We’re not in good condition mentally. What worked before suddenly isn’t working in many cases. We’re facing a strong headwind and that’s new to me. The key is to find out how to play my normal game in such situations.
Japan player Shohei Yamamoto: We lost today because of mistakes that don’t directly lead to losing points. We just made too many to be able to compete with Iran, so we need to think about that and improve the accuracy of our play. Rather than think about the opposition, we should think about how high we can go in terms of quality.