US defend FIVB World Grand Prix crown

Team USA's Jordan Larson punches the ball over the net (Image from
The US women’s volleyball squad have successfully defended their FIVB World Grand Prix title, thrashing favorites from Brazil in straight sets in the final held in Macau, China.

­The opener turned out a tight encounter, but Destinee Hooker and Logan Tom outplayed the Brazilian blockers when it mattered most and the set went to the Americans.

The US took a 19-15 lead in the second set, and never gave their opponents, who committed several unnecessary receiving errors, any quarter.

And they played with the same confidence in the third, delivering Brazil their only defeat in this year’s competition with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-21) scoreline.   

Hooker became the top US scorer of the game, with 16 points, while Natalia Pereira gained 11 for Brazil.

“It is always a challenge to play the Brazil team, they are the best team in the world," Hugh McCutcheon, the US coach, told FIVB official website. "For us we had to play with a lot of discipline, focus on trying to work together and stick to the game plan. Our team really performed very well today. I am very proud of them, not just for the victory but in every match played throughout this long tournament our team made improvement. It is very good for us to see that we could perform at our today when the best is needed.”

The triumph in Macau is the Americans’ fourth ever World Grand Prix victory, also snatching the title in 1995, 2001 and 2010.

Meanwhile, Russia finished the event without any medals at all.

The third place game was not enough to motivate Vladimir Kuzyutkin’s girls, as they gave up to Serbia almost without a fight for the bronze medal.

The teams spent just 1 hour and 17 minutes on the court, with Serbia topping their opponents 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-16).  

Serbian Jovana Brakocevic was on fire, scoring 17 points, while Goncharova Natalya earned 10 points for Russia.

Serbian Brakocevic Jovana was the game’s top scorers with 17 points, with Russia’s top player Natalya Goncharova earning 10 points.

"All tournaments are important and so are the results,”
Vladimir Kuzyutkin, Russia’s coach, said. “At the beginning of this tournament our aim was to prove and to see how our core players would perform in this competition, and we can see that our players still need a lot of improvement. Although we did not get to the final or come away with the bronze medal, we are still happy for the opportunity to participate in this competition.”

Team Russia are current volleyball world champions and three time FIVB World Grand Prix winners (1997, 1999 and 2002).

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