Brazil beating Japan in three straight sets clinched gold medal. Silver achieved USA, beating in American game Domninican Republic 3-1, bronze for “Nippon”. Surprise of the day was a win by Thailand versus Russia in 4 sets.



Today results:

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – UNITED STATES 1-3 (14-25 16-25 25-21 18-25) MVP: Kelly Murphy
Dominican Republic: Marte Frica, De La Cruz De Peńa, Vargas Valdez (9), Mambru Casilla (17), Rivera Brens (1), Arias Perez (9), Castillo (L) and Martinez (10), Echenique Medina, Binet Stephens, Peńa (7)
Glass (5), Burbach-Larson (16), Jackson (10), Murphy (16), Hildebrand (8), Paolini (19), Banwarth (L) and Hill (1), Lichtmann

The win saw USA finish the tournament with a 4-1 record for 10 points while the Dominicans dropped to 1-4 and ended on three points. It was the first time USA and the Dominican Republic had met in the World Grand Champions Cup. USA had a 12-2 record in FIVB events against the Dominicans going into the match. USA beat the Dominican Republic twice earlier this year – in the finals of the Pan American Cup and the NORCECA Championship. Lauren Paolini was the top scorer in the match with 19 points, while Kelly Murphy and Jordan Larson-Burbach had 16. Gina Mambru led the Dominican Republic with 17 points followed by Brayelin Martinez with 10. USA outblocked their opponents 16-8 and out-aced them 8-2. The Dominicans committed 21 errors to the Americans’ 20.
Gina Mambru of the Dominican Republic got into the groove quickly with four big hits that put her team 5-2 ahead. USA fought back and drew level at 6-6 on a lucky serve by Jordan Larson-Burbach that dribbled off the net cord onto the Dominican side of the net. USA captain Kristin Hildebrand then went on a smashing spree with three straight bombs that prompted Dominican Republic coach Marcos Kwiek to call a timeout. The Dominicans struggled after that. They failed to get back two serves from Cursty Jackson, while her teammate Lauren Paolini came up with back-to-back blocks that put USA 17-8 ahead and in firm control of the set. Larson-Burbach ended the set with a simple tipover.
Alisha Glass started the second set with some hot defence, earning three points behind the serving of Paolini, who also delivered an ace. USA were six points up at the first technical timeout and seven at the second. The Dominicans came to life only sporadically, while the Americans were playing confident volleyball. A spike by Paolini earned USA 10 setpoints and a clever tipover by the same player put the Americans 2-0 up. 
Paolini helped USA jump out to an early 3-0 lead in the third set but the Dominicans dug in, with Mambru laying down three big hits. A Brayelin Martinez block on Paolini brought the teams level at 9-9. Larson-Burbach came up with a rasping, cross-court blast and a neatly placed shot in the corner as the Americans moved three points ahead, but a block by Annerys Vargas on Kelly Murphy saw the teams level again at 14, prompting USA coach Karch Kiraly to call his first timeout of the match. The Dominicans took the lead at 16-15 after a block by Vargas on Jackson and moved into a two-point lead at 19-17 after a thumping ace by Yonkaira Pena. That turned into a three-point lead after an error at the net by the Americans and with the Dominicans finding a new burst of confidence, the Americans weren’t able to get back into the set. A super block by Pena on Jackson brought up setpoint and the Dominicans pulled a set back when Murphy planted a shot into the net.
The scores were level at 4-4 in the fourth set but two spikes and a block on Pena by Murphy gave the Americans a slight advantage. The Dominicans tried to hold on with some good work by 17-year-old Martinez, including a delicate tipover and a monster kill, but at 12-15 Dominican coach Marcos Kwiek called a timeout. Martinez responded with two good hits before Pena planted a serve in the net, giving USA a two-point advantage at the second TTO. They stretched this to four points after a hit by Paolini and a lucky serve off the net cord by Murphy. After that, the Dominicans couldn’t find a way back. Larson-Burbach came up with two blocks, the second one handing USA six matchpoints. Alisha Glass then delivered the winning shot after a poor service reception by the Dominicans.

Team Stats:

ActionsSpike pointsSpike %BlockServeDigsRec

Team Leaders:

ActionsPointsSpike ptsSpike %BlockAceErrors
Gina Mambru171749%004
Lauren Paolini191352%424


THAILAND – RUSSIA 3-1 (18-25 25-22 25-21 25-23) MVP: Sittirak Onuma
Thailand: Nootsara (3), Onuma (26), Thatdao (8), Malika (11), Wilavan (19), Pleumjit (13), Wanna (L), Piyanut (L) and Tapaphaipun (1), Pornpun
Pankova, Sokolova (11), Morozova (14), Malykh (19), Chaplina (3), Shlyakhovaya (15), Kryuchkova (L), Malova (L) and Pasynkova (7), Startseva, Isaeva, Dianskaya

In their 10 previous meetings, the Russians had won every match. The win saw Thailand raise their record to 1-4 for four points while Russia dropped to 1-4 and also finished on four points. The result determined the bottom three placings in the World Grand Champions Cup. The Dominican Republic finished sixth with three points, Thailand fifth with four points and Russia fourth, also with four points. Thailand’s Onuma Sittirak top-scored in the match with 26 points, while captain Wilavan Apinyapong contributed 19. Russia were led by Natalia Malykh with 19 points. Thailand’s Pleumjit Thinkaow had a tournament-high seven blocking points. Both teams had 14 blocking points, while the Thais had five service points to Russia’s one. Russia committed 12 errors to Thailand’s 22.
Russia’s Natalia Malykh started to punish the Thai defence early on in the match and when the Thai players allowed a slow serve from Iulia Morozova to drop into space – making the score 11-4 – Thailand called a timeout. Onuma Sittirak scored with a couple of hits and then boosted the Thais with some impressive power serves, as Thailand pulled back from 15-7 to 15-11. But while the Thais showed plenty of spirit and guile – exemplified by another trademark reverse tipover by setter Nootsara Tomkom – they still found it hard to match the power of the Russians in the early stages. Victoria Chaplina earned Russia six matchpoints with a spike that the Thais couldn’t return and a block by Morozova on Sittirak put Russia 1-0 ahead.
Sittirak made two early errors in the second set as the Russians pulled into a 3-0 lead, but Malika Kanthong responded with a kill and an excellent block on Chaplina to get Thailand back on track. Russian errors then allowed Thailand to take the lead and after another neat reverse tipover from the classy Tomkom, Thailand were 8-6 ahead at the first technical timeout. But Russia turned the screws again, taking the next four points and bringing a Thai timeout. The Thais regrouped and fought back with two great hits by captain Wilavan Apinyapong and a terrific block by Pleumjit Thinkaow on Alexandra Pasynkova to take the lead at 14-13. A delightful cross plant by Sittirak extended the lead to two points at 18-16, but the two teams were all-square again at 18-18. Russia coach Yury Marichev called a timeout after another rocket serve from Sittirak caused reception problems and allowed the Thais to lead 21-20. But two more meaty serves and sweet hitting by Apinyapong forced the coach to haul his players off again at 23-20. It had an effect as Sittirak netted her next serve. But another spike by Apinyapong brought Thailand three setpoints and when Liubov Shashkova sent a tame shot wide, the match was level at 1-1.
The Thais showed their intelligent style in the first phase of the third set with Tomkom pulling the strings and making some terrific sets and Sittirak planting the ball in holes on the Russian side of the net. Thinkaow landed a shot from a trademark rapid set by Tomkom and added two terrific blocks on Malykh and Shashkova as Thailand moved into a 9-5 lead. At 12-7, Marichev called his players off for a talk. Shashkova then came up with a kill, Anastasia blocked Kanthong on successive plays and Thailand called a timeout. But the Thais were still two points ahead at the second TTO and at times the Russians struggled to catch up with their unpredictable offence. Marichev called a timeout when a block by Kanthong on Malykh put Thailand three points ahead at 22-19. Sittirak followed up with an ace and Apinyapong thundered a shot down the line to give the Thais five setpoints. After dropping two, the Thais called a timeout and Shlyakhovaya did them a favour by sending her next serve out of court, putting Thailand 2-1 up in the match.
Kanthong and Apinyapong earned Thailand’s first points of the fourth set with super blocks on Malykh and the Thais went 3-1 up after the Russians failed to deal with another blockbuster serve from Sittirak. Thinkaow came up with her fifth blocking point of the match to put Thailand 8-4 up at the first TTO, then added two more points with some good blocking, forcing Marichev to haul his players off court again. Shlyakhovaya scored two hits as Russia closed the gap to 10-7 and the Thais called a timeout. Successive blocks by Shlyakhovaya on Sittirak pulled Russia to within a point at 11-10 and when a lobbed shot by Malykh dropped in, the scores were level at 12-12. Another blistering ace by Sittirak gave Thailand a two-point lead and they kept that margin at the second TTO. After the Russians drew level at 16, Apinyapong led a Thai surge that saw them go four points ahead at 20-16, but then the Russians powered their way back to even the scores at 21. At 23-22, Sittirak earned Thailand two matchpoints with a shot down the right line. Chaplina saved one, but Sittirak fired down a final kill to give Thailand a well-deserved victory.



Team Stats:


ActionsSpike pointsSpike %BlockServeDigsRec

Team Leaders:

ActionsPointsSpike ptsSpike %BlockAceErrors
Sittirak Onuma262243%139
Natalya Malykh191739%208


BRAZIL – JAPAN 3-0 (29-27 25-14 25-18) MVP: Sheilla Castro
Brazil: Fabiola (3), Fernanda Garay (16), Fabiana (10), Sheilla (14), Natalia (8), Adenizia (2), Camil Brait (L) and Carol Gattaz (5), Monique (2), Claudia, Michelle
Nakamichi (2), Kimura (6), Sakoda (6), Shinnabe (4), Ishii (12), Iwasaka (3), Sato (L) and Nagaoka (5), Nagamatsu, Oumi (1), Otake (2), Ebata (7)

Brazil became the first team to win the title twice. They also won in 2005. Japan took the bronze medal, matching their performance in 2001. The South American champions finished the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record for 15 points, while Japan dropped to 3-2 for nine points. USA took the silver with a 4-1 record and 10 points. It was Brazil’s fourth win against Japan in the Grand Champions Cup against one loss. Overall in FIVB tournaments, Brazil have a 48-12 win-loss record against Japan. Fernanda Rodrigues was the top scorer for Brazil with 16 points, while Sheilla Castro had 14. Yuki Ishii was the only Japanese player to get into double figures with 12 points. Brazil scored 17 blocking points to Japan’s two and five service points to Japan’s four. Japan committed 19 errors while Brazil had 11.
Brazil certainly didn’t get the start they wanted, dropping five straight points to fall 5-1 behind and forcing coach Ze Roberto to call a timeout. A block by Saori Sakoda on Fabiana Claudino saw Japan to a four-point lead at the first technical timeout. Japan continued to pressure a nervy looking Brazil and went five points ahead at 14-9 after a wide shot by Sheilla. Japan maintained a four-point lead at the second TTO with a super strike by Ishii. When Ishii blocked Fernanda on the next point to bring the margin back to five points, Ze Roberto called his players off court again. A block and a spike by Monique Pavao helped Brazil close the gap to 17-15 and the scores were level at 18 after some sloppy play by Japan. Saori Sakoda sent down a couple of piledrivers to put Japan on top and a long shot by Fernanda gave Japan two setpoints. But Risa Shinnabe sent a cross-court shot wide and Japan failed to deal with Sheilla’s next serve, levelling the scores at 24. Japan saved two Brazil setpoints before two more errors cost them the set. Ishii sent a service wide and then sent a shot out of bounds and Brazil were 1-0 up.  
Japan struggled at the start of the second set. Sakoda sent a shot wide while Shinnabe hit the pole and was blocked twice in succession as the Japanese fell behind 4-1. Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe called a timeout to try and steady his team and they fought back to within a point at 7-6 but they were still struggling to hit through the Brazil block and fell behind 12-6. Sakoda managed to claw a couple of points back for Japan, but the Brazilians were in the ascendancy. Brazil took the score from 14-11 to 21-11, with Fernanda coming up with two good blocks, and had no problems after that. With Brazil only needing a point (two sets) for the championship, Fabiana brought championship point with a hit that Japan failed to return and Fernanda clinched the title with a trademark thump.
Japan brought in Yukiko Ebata and Miyu Nagaoka at the start of the third set and both delivered in the opening phase. But Fernanda made some tough hits for Brazil, while teammate Fabiola Sousa came up with two good blocks as Brazil went took an 8-5 lead at the first TTO. Nagaoka then delivered a pair of kills, while Ebata hit a rocket and service ace as Japan levelled at 12. Manabe called a timeout after a reception error allowed Brazil to go 17-15 ahead and another when his team fell back 20-16. Brazil were playing well, attacking with spirit and defending tenaciously while Japan stuggled to find any kind of rhythm. A block by Natalia Pereira brought up matchpoint and it was all over when Ebata sent a spike long.



Team Stats:

ActionsSpike pointsSpike %BlockServeDigsRec

Team Leaders:

ActionsPointsSpike ptsSpike %BlockAceErrors
Fernanda Garay161134%504
Yuki Ishii121036%115


Best Players (we have some weird choices here…):
MVP: Fabiana Claudino (Brazil)
Best Setter: Hitomi Nakamichi (Japan)
Best Opposite: Gina Altagracia Mambru Casilla (Dominican Republic)
Best Outside Hitters: Saori Sakoda (Japan), Sittirak Onuma (Thailand)
Best Middle Blockers: Iulia Morozova (Russia), Thinkaow Pleumjit (Thailand)
Best Libero: Arisa Sato (Thailand)

Final Standings:

RankTeamWin/LossSetsSmall PointsPoints

Descriptions: FIVB