Defending champion Brazil will clash with 2014 silver medallists Japan in the opening match of the 2015 World Grand Prix
Lausanne, Switzerland, January 1, 2015 – The 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix broke the mould in terms of the number of teams competing, with a record 28 taking part. So what does 2015 have in store for the world’s premier annual women’s volleyball tournament when it begins on June 26?
To start with the tournament will conclude in Omaha, USA the first the Finals have been held outside of Asia or Europe. The United States’ success at last year’s FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Italy where they swooped to gold against all expectation will almost certainly bring out the crowds as the home fans hope for more success on the road to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
But before that will come the Preliminary Round, with six weeks of action across all three groups for supporters around the world to look forward to.
Peru celebrate a win in front of their home fans. They will also begin their
2015 campaign at home
Group 3 welcomes a new team in Colombia and it is the first time the country has competed in any FIVB tournament. Their steady improvement in both the Pan-American Cup – where they finished seventh in 2014 – and South American Women’s Championship – where they have finished fourth on the last four occasions – has seen them qualify for the tournament. They will join 2014 debutants Australia, Croatia, Kenya and Mexico in Group 3 along with Algeria, Cuba, Kazakhstan and Peru.
Kazakhstan, Mexico, Peru and Algeria will stage the four pools before the focus then switches to the Final in Australia from July 10-12. The hosts will be hoping to emulate the men’s team’s performance in the 2014 World League when they tore up the form book to claim the gold medal.
Croatia earned promotion to Group 2 and will have a tough start as they welcome the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Argentina on week one
The newly-promoted Croatia will host one of the pools on the opening weekend of Group 2 from July 3 – 5. They will welcome Czech Republic, who also come up from Group 3, as well as Argentina and 2014 Group 2 runners-up the Netherlands.
Puerto Rico will provide the backdrop for the other pool with Canada and Poland joining them alongside newcomers Bulgaria.
The action will then turn to Argentina and Bulgaria the following week before Poland hosts the Finals from July 31 – August 2, hoping to draw on some of the magic of the home crowd that helped guide the men’s side to the 2014 World Championship.
Czech Republic may have lost out to Bulgaria in the Group 3 finals last year but they will be hoping for a better performance in Group 2 in 2015
Group 1 will begin on July 3 as title-holders Brazil take on 2014 silver medallists Japan in their first match in Bangkok.
Brazil and Japan met in the final match of last year’s World Grand Prix and the defending champions will hope to pick up where they left off in 2015
The pool round matches will continue until July 18, with the twelve teams in Group 1 split into three different pools each weekend.
Week 1 will see Thailand welcome Brazil, Serbia and Japan in Pool A. China host Pool B which includes Russia, Dominican Republic and Germany and while Turkey will take on USA, Italy and Belgium in front of their home fans in Pool C.
Belgium had a good outing in the 2014 edition and the team, headed by talented youngster Lise Van Hecke, will want to stake their claim among the volleyball elite
In Week 2, which is scheduled to take place from July 10-12, reigning champions Brazil will be grouped with Belgium, Germany and Thailand in Pool D. Pool E will include China, Japan, the Dominican Republic and Italy. Group F will see Turkey take on USA, Russia and Serbia.
In the third week of pool action, with matches from July 16-18, Pool G will feature Brazil, Russia, Italy and Belgium. Pool H will contain China, USA, Japan and Thailand. Finally, Pool I will see Turkey play Serbia, the Dominican Republic and Germany.
The top group is expected to be a tightly contested one, with four former winners and seven medallists in total vying for a ticket to Omaha.