HONG KONG—China, USA, Russia and Brazil have booked their places in the Finals of the Volleyball Grand Prix 2016 to take place in Bangkok, Thailand starting July 6.
As of Saturday evening (June 25), the 6th place is still not yet settled and could be filled by Netherlands or Serbia. Japan and Italy have a slim chance but if Netherlands win their final match against Germany they will take the 6th place.
Serbia has won 4 of their matches, (albeit with just 9 points) putting them ahead in the standings above Japan and Italy with 3 wins and 12 and 10 points respectively. Serbia can be expected to win against Thailand in Sunday’s match to make 5 wins but will only make the finals if Netherlands lose their match against Germany.
Japan have a difficult match against Russia (3rd in the standings) in their final match but Italy have a good chance of winning against Belgium in their Sunday game but a win will most likely leave them just out of contention for a finals spot.
The top match of this round of matches, China and USA, takes place on Sunday in Hong Kong. This match will determine the top team of the overall standings as well as the local Champions. Winning will also give added confidence to the Finals.
China took the spoils in Hong Kong last year, but still lost out to USA in the finals, in USA. This year however, playing on neutral territory (Thailand) winning this final match may be more important.
In Hong Kong on Saturday June 25, USA fielding a strong team took on Netherlands in the first match of the afternoon. USA won the first game 25-17 but Netherlands raised their game in the second, surprising the USA team with their Spiking and recovery capabilities. At one point early in the 2nd set Netherlands spiked a ball causing a shoulder injury to the American No1, Alisha Glass. At that point Netherlands had just got their noses in front at 4-2, but from then on had the impetus and dominated the American team for the rest of that game. Netherlands kept edging ahead opening a 5 point gap at 16-11 and went on to win that set 25-19, with lots of impressive play.
But following a serious discussion between the American coaches at the end of game 2, the USA side settled back into their game and steadily chipped away to win the next two sets 25-17, 25-20.
Although losing 3-0, Germany put in a good performance against China in the second game of the afternoon, but one had the feeling that China was not playing as intensely as usual, even their head coach Lang Ping, stayed seated for much of the match. But China showed periods of brilliance. China’s blocking and spiking abilities are well known, but their serving seems a step ahead of other teams with downward angled power serves that are difficult to dig out, and greater ball swerve on others that give receivers much difficulty.