Top four prepare for hot weekend of volleyball


Australia's Lauren Bertolacci in action

Canberra, Australia, July 10, 2015 - Australia, Peru, Colombia and Kenya will have more than each other to worry about in the finals of FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 3 this weekend – they’ll also have to deal with some of the coldest weather Canberra has experienced in many years.

But while the weather outside will be close to freezing, the temperatures inside the Canberra arena will be sizzling hot with all four teams fighting to earn promotion to Group Two in 2016.

South American rivals Peru and Colombia will kick the weekend off, with the recent game series between the two teams standing at 2-all.

“When we started the Grand Prix we didn’t know how far we would go,” Colombian coach Guillaume Eduardo said.

“If we look at the history of this Grand Prix, Colombia and Peru is like a final.”

Colombian captain Maria Alejandra Marin is also excited to have a chance to progress to group two.

“We are excited to have an opportunity to promote to Group Two next year,” she said.

“And I think Colombia and Peru is like a South American classic, like Brazil against Argentina. I think every match between Peru and Colombia is exciting.”

Peru captain Mirtha Uribe said her team has already caught many teams off guard.

“The goal is to surprise the public and the other teams,” Uribe said.

“We’ve played against Colombia four times, for two wins and two losses. So I suppose tomorrow is an important match, because it’s like a final.”

Peru coach Mauro Marasciulo has been impressed by the attitude of his young team.

“We are definitely ready,” he said.

“We know Colombia very well and are ready to face them. We have a young team, but we have a lot of potential. I want them to relax and just focus on what is in front of them.”

Hosts Australia will be playing in front of a home crowd for the first time in 15 years, and is hoping it will lift the team to their first Grand Prix win since joining the competition last year.

They take on Kenya on Saturday night, having lost both their last two matches against the Africans.

“You’d think having our record we would not be confident and have no self belief, but there’s none of that in this team at all,” Australian captain Shae Sloane said.

“We know Kenya pretty well. We just have to forget about what has happened in the past. I think tomorrow will be a very different scenario.”

Australian coach Mark Barnard is trying not to let the importance of this weekend’s matches distract his team.

“I’ve been thinking about what it all means,” he said.

“I think if we put on a good show it’s a benefit to us, but if we don’t there’s no harm done because we don’t have a full time women’s program anyway.”

Kenyan coach David Lungaho and his team are feeling the cold more than any other team

“It has been hard for us to settle because we don’t experience these conditions in Kenya,” Lungaho said.

“When we left our country we didn’t know we could get this far, but we were hopeful. Now we are here, we think we can surprise people and win the title.”

Kenyan captain Brackcides Khadambi said her team comes to Canberra in good form.

“We’ve been playing well, especially when we were in Algeria,” she said.

“It’s going to be a tough weekend for all the teams. Australia is a good team, especially now they are playing at home. They have good morale and home support.”


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