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
Things are starting to heat up as teams anticipate the last matches in the WGCC. In a round robin tournament, you cannot commit mistakes. Take Iran’s case for example: only one day ago, it was at the top of the standings, as the only unbeaten team in the tournament. One game later, it slides to fourth place, after its defeat at the hands of the Brazilians. Having nothing to do with Iran’s bad luck, Team USA took advantage of it and climbed to first place, defeating the French 3×0. Below, you’ll find updated pools, match videos, and FIVB recaps from all of the day’s action:
Team USA x France
Matthew Anderson fired five aces to lead USA to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-16) win against France. Anderson added 10 attacks and two blocks to his five aces to top all scorers in the match; then Aaron Russell and Taylor Sander contributed 15 and 12 points, respectively, for USA’s strong match finish. France’s Jean Patry was was France’s highest scorer, but with only eight points.
USA started their campaign in the 2017 edition with a straight-set victory over hosts Japan, but failed to win against Iran in a five-set match. USA now have a 2-1 win-loss card. USA started the first two sets with great intensity, putting Anderson and Russell at the forefront of offence. By the third set, France experienced its worst run in the match, as they could not come up with better defensive and offensive plays.
Here are the post match reactions:
USA coach John Speraw: Against Iran, we played such good volleyball in the first two sets but didn’t maintain our focus. Today, we played equally well. We were very good in service-reception and even better in serving and blocking. This time we again took a 2-0 lead and kept our focus and we needed to against a very good France team. It’s very painful any time you lose after being 2-0 up. It’s particularly painful because it felt like we lost our edge and competitiveness. We started to get frustrated and we got negative and that made us worse, and we lost the match.
We talked quite a bit about the thought process of that moment and we talked about the opportunity that we have. We have a great group of players, on and off the court, and I think that we should be a volleyball team that’s competing for medals in every tournament that we’re in and we shouldn’t take that for granted and take it easy at certain moments because it appears that we’re going to win. We have to have a sense of urgency all the time. This is a special group and potentially it could be a special time but we have to make it special. I think we saw them respond today very positively – you could see it in their body language and the way they communicated was very positive and that’s the team that we should be. That’s what we should be known for and I think we saw that character today.
USA captain David Smith: I think there were a lot of things for us to be happy about today in the way we played. The good thing was that we learned our lesson from the last match and were able to build those things. I’m very proud of the team for keeping their focus all the way through to the end and being able to keep the pressure on France.
France coach Laurent Tillie: I think we were up against a well-organised American team who really showed their form. Their service and reception was extraordinary. Curiously, our attack percentage was not bad but maybe we didn’t do well in other aspects. The important thing was we could learn a very good volleyball lesson and we need to make the most out of it.
France captain Benjamin Toniutti: We were up against a very strong American team today. It was a disappointing day for us as USA played very well. For us, we weren’t stable overall and the difference in levels showed in today’s game. USA are in great condition and France has to develop more and be more consistent. Last year and earlier this year, we were in good form and we want to recapture that form.
Brazil x Iran
Wallace Souza and Lucas Saatkamp led Brazil in their 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-15) win over Iran. Wallace and Lucas sparked Brazil’s offence from the start and finished with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Ricardo Lucarelli helped out on offence with 11 points for Brazil. Brazil had a total of 11 blocks to stop the Iranian hitters and their top scorer Milad Ebadipour was reduced to score only nine points.
Brazil improved their record to 29 wins and four defeats at the World Grand Champions Cup. After their 3-2 defeat against Italy, they bounced back to avoid back-to-back losses. They have never lost more than one match in this tournament in a single year. Brazil utilized their middle and right-side hitters to score in clusters, while Iran did not have a good side-out game. Even though the Asian side found their rhythm to tie the score, Brazil still scored the last three points closed the opening set. Brazil used the same attack strategy, but implemented better defense that provided additional opportunities to counter-attack. The game plan worked for Brazil to secure the straight-set win.
Here are the post match reactions:
Brazil captain Bruno Rezende: Today was our best performance in the tournament so far. The way we played against Italy was really frustrating. Today, we were able to concentrate I think we showed greater maturity. There were big points out there and we were able to win those. Also, we felt good out there and could play more in our Brazilian style. Tomorrow, we play a strong United States team, so hopefully we’ll play even better and win again.
Brazil coach Renan Dal Zotto: Today was a very important win. Prior to the match, I had doubts because Iran played great volleyball and gave their opponents a tough time in their previous two games. They play speedy volleyball and serve well. Today, their blocking was good and they have a good defensive system. They also have one of the best setters in the world. I thought it would be difficult to fully mark their attacks and we had to watch out for their counter-attacks, so that’s why I am pleased we could win. Our service, blocking and defense were all good today, so we were able to contain Iran’s speedy attacks.
Iran coach Igor Kolakovic: Congratulations to Brazil for a great game. Today, I think we lost energy from the middle of the second and third sets. Each game was interesting but I think at those moments in the second and third sets Brazil started to play unbelievable defense and great counter-attack. We just didn’t have the energy we had against USA. Maybe we lost a lot of energy in our first two games, but I think Brazil put us under pressure with their high quality.
Iran captain Saeid Marouf: Congratulations to Brazil. Today was not our day. If you can’t get a side-out, it’s not possible to play Brazil. They were so strong. In such a situation, it’s hard to play them. Now, we must forget this and focus on tomorrow. We always have tough games against Japan. They play very good volleyball, so we must stay focused for the whole game.
Italy x Japan
Luca Vettori topped all scorers with 22 points to lead Italy to a 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22) win over Japan. Vettori charted 18 attacks, two blocks and two aces; then three other players scored in double-figures. Masahiro Yanagida scored 20 points, but it was only him and Issei Otake who produced good point-output for the Japanese side. Even though Japan played excellent defense on Italy, the latter made a lot of points from attacks, blocks and service. Italy have won all four encounters against Japan at the World Grand Champions Cup. The last time Italy won over Japan in four sets was in 1993, when Japan experienced its first ever defeat in the history of the competition.
Japan led at the start of the first set, but Italy grabbed the lead as they converted a lot of points from the middle and the right side. A backrow spike closed the set at 25-23 in favor of the Europeans. Japan responded with a 25-22 win in the next set as they passed the ball efficiently, allowing setter Naonobu Fujii to distribute the ball well to his hitters. Italy obtained victories in the next two sets from points off the attack and service errors of Japan.
Here are the post match reactions:
Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blengini: I have to say I’m happy about today’s result. It’s never easy to get a good result, but we were able to do it because of how we fought. But we also had to suffer in certain situations because Japan defended a lot. We knew they would do that and knew it would be a difficult match in which we would have to have patience because Japan defended hard and each rally lasted a long time. So we had to be patient and keep going. We found the right solutions in the match and fought even when we were down, and that’s one that makes me most happy.
Italy captain Simone Buti: We wanted to do well today and we were able to do so, so I’m very happy. It’s never easy to play a team like Japan, especially in Japan. We didn’t start well, as usual. It happened in the last two games and again today, but this time we could take the first set and this was very important for us and helped us to win. Japan never gave up and made it difficult to the very end, so congratulations to them. Now we must think about our remaining games and try to get good results. When you play five matches in six days, it’s very difficult for us physically but also mentally. You have to concentrate in each match. We’ve had to play some very difficult matches so far and we have more difficult matches to come against France and USA. So we have to forget about today’s match as quickly as possible and think about the next one.
Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi: For the first time in this competition, we were able to win a set. That’s good but I feel that we could have done better. I don’t think Italy played sophisticated volleyball today. They made mistakes but we didn’t take advantage of them as much as we could, so that’s disappointing. For the first time in this competition, (Masahiro) Yanagida’s service functioned well, so we were able to disrupt Italy’s service reception and that’s why we were able to compete in the match.
In the first half, we couldn’t compete, so I thought about changing (Issei) Otake. (Satoshi) Ide’s footwork was really good today and that contributed well to our defence. But Italy’s service was very strong and they were able to take points off us, which was why we weren’t able to win. We’ve done a lot of practice on jump serves this season but we still struggle to receive them in matches.
Japan player Shuzo Yamada: I was able to play because Ishikawa couldn’t, so it was just like the World League matches in Takasaki. I just wanted to play my own game and try to show the coach what I am capable of. We managed to win one set, but that wasn’t good enough. We really want a win, so it’s a shame. I could feel the strength of the Italian team, but I really feel I can compete with teams like that. At certain times today, we did that, but we need to go a little further and score those extra points.
Japan player Masahiro Yanagida: We took the lead at various points in today’s game, but couldn’t go beyond that to win. When I look back, we gave away too much on situations where we should have scored. We have to do something about this because the result says everything.
Japan player Issei Otake: Overall, I think we demonstrated Japan’s tenacious brand of volleyball. We won one set but couldn’t convert that into a win. We should have scored from more balls. If we’d been more accurate, we might have been able to win the game, so we must try to improve our accuracy. Ishikawa wasn’t there but it doesn’t matter who is on court; all the players are capable. I think in the first two matches, I wasn’t at my best and my weak points showed. Today, when we had the lead I was determined not to lose it. After scoring my first spike, I didn’t feel nervous as I had in the first two matches and thought I would be able to play well. So, I think I did OK and was able to show what I can do.