China riding wave of success

Lausanne, Switzerland, April 18, 2018 - Introducing the top teams in the current world rankings, the first installment in this series takes a look at the team ranked number 1 in women's volleyball - Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games gold medallists China.

The 2015 FIVB World Cup winners, 2016 Olympic champions and 2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup winners – China’s women have won a major international volleyball title in each of the last three years.

They would love to make it two in 2018. As the number one team in the world, the ladies from the Middle Kingdom go into the keenly-anticipated inaugural season of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League as the hot favourite.

The competition takes on even greater importance when you look at last season, when the Chinese had to settle for a disappointing fourth place at the final round of the last ever FIVB World Grand Prix on home soil in Nanjing.

This year also throws up a second highlight, in the form of the Japan 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championships. China are hungry to win gold again, after 32 years – last time out, in 2014, they had to make do with the silver medal, following a final defeat to the USA.

“My team and I try to win every match. I hope the Chinese women's volleyball team will always develop and become better,” said Zhu Ting in an interview with the FIVB.

Coming from the mouth of the captain of the national team, this sounds almost like a threat to the opposition. After all, China has been the outstanding team in recent years, and MVP Zhu Ting has been a huge part of that success. The team and the millions of fans in China are looking forward to the FIVB Nations League – particularly as they will welcome the top teams to their home tournaments.

China faces the Dominican Republic, Belgium and South Korea on the opening weekend in Ningbo, China, from 15th to 17th May. Following tournaments in Macau and Hong Kong, they then return to Jianmen for the showdown against fellow favourites Brazil, who won the last FIVB World Grand Prix, world champions the USA, and record world champions Russia. These are exactly the matches the fans want to see – and the FIVB Volleyball Nations League is making this possible.

The “eternal” duel with Brazil enters its next round in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. In 2017, the South Americans won the first title of the season at the FIVB World Grand Prix – in China, of all places.

China then took revenge at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Grand Champions Cup. They defeated their South American rivals 3-2 (25-20, 25-12, 20-25, 23-25, 19-17) in what proved to be the decisive match of the six-team tournament, which was played in a round robin format. The Chinese fended off two match points to clinch that all-important victory, which was a repeat of the Olympic quarter-final in Rio, where China ended Brazilian dreams of a home win. It goes without saying that the match winner in a top-class game at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium was Zhu Ting with 33 points.

It ultimately came down to a battle of nerves between two outstanding teams, and Zhu Ting made the difference with a total of 100 points from China’s five victories. The hitter was also leading scorer.

Even after this latest success, China’s coach An Jiajie still sees room for improvement: “We are very happy to be the champions and I want to express my deep gratitude to my players and coaches. There is still room for improvement in critical areas and that will be our next challenge. It was the first year of the new Olympic cycle, so this was an important year for us.”

China will aim to make 2018 another memorable year – by continuing their title-winning run in the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Star of the team: Zhu Ting
Zhu Ting (23) is currently regarded as probably the best female volleyball player in the world. In 2015, she guided her Chinese team to success at the FIVB World Cup as the tournament’s MVP. One year later, she was again named MVP as she helped China to a historic gold at the Olympic Games in Rio.

In 2017, she won the FIVB Club World Championship with her new club Vakifbank Istanbul and was awarded MVP again. Zhu Ting also won the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup with China – naturally as the outstanding player and MVP. Despite her young age, the extraordinary hitter is now captain of the Chinese team. In spite of all this success, she has kept her feet planted firmly on the ground: “Volleyball is a wonderful sport. That’s important for me, and my team is important.”

Zhu Ting is a star in China, and is recognised when she walks down the street. A lot of her success is down to legendary coach “Jenny” Lang Ping, who led the team to Olympic success in Rio, among other titles: “It's very important that Lang Ping taught me a lot of techniques. I’m as good as I am and have today's technology thanks to Lang Ping. I'm very lucky in volleyball, because so many people helped me on my way. I wouldn’t be here without them. Talent and hard work are equally important.” Zhu Ting is looking to add to what is already a remarkable career – at least by the 2024 Olympic Games.

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Canadians Nusbaum and Plantinga reach semifinals defeating Cuba

Canadians Aaron Nusbaum and Mike Plantinga upset top seeded Karell Peña and Dasiel Quesada of Cuba with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-15) victory to reach the men’s semifinals of the first stage of the 2018 NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Mike Plantinga’s high blocks and Aaron Nusbaum’s effective defense took the Cuban pair by surprise, limiting their performance to a lower standard than usual.

Another surprise was Josué Gaxiola/José Angel Cardenas of Mexico advancing into semifinals with a steady performance while beating Canada-B of Fiodar Kazhamiaka/ Sergey Grabovsky 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) in quarterfinals. Gaxiola has earned one silver and two bronze NORCECA medals and Cardenas is a NORCECA newcomer; together they finished fifth last year at the FIVB U-21 World Championship.

United States-A of William Reid Priddy and Troy Field had to use all their energy to beat resilient Rubén Mora/Dany López of Nicaragua coming from behind 2-1 (25-27, 21-15, 15-11). Mora and López had a spectacular performance while Priddy and Field seemed to enjoy the challenge.

Eric Zaun and Edwin Ratledge of United States-B won their quarterfinal match with no problems  to young Dominicans Jamel Alessandre/Victor Castillo by 2-0 (21-15, 21-15).

Plantinga/Nusbaum (CAN) will meet Gaxiola/Cardenas (MEX) in semfinals. The other semifinal features Priddy/Field against fellow countrymen Zaun/Ratledge.

Men’s semifinal matches are scheduled for 10:30 am (local time) and the gold medal match at 5:30 pm.

Men Results Saturday:

Pool-Play: Pool A: Karell Peña/ Dasiel Quesada (CUB) d Jamel Alessandre/Victor Castillo (DOM) 2-0 (21-13, 21-11); Pool B: Eric Zaun/Edwin Ratledge (USA-B) d Aaron Nusbaum/ Mike Plantinga (CAN-A) 2-1 (21-91, 15-21, 18-16); Pool C: Fiodar Kazhamiaka/ Sergey Grabovsky (CAN-B) d Luis García/Erick Garrido (GUA) 2-0 (21-19, 21-18); William Reid Priddy/Troy Field (USA-A) d Germán Osuna/Leonel Garza (MEX-B) 2-0 (21-15, 21-11); Pool D: Josue Gaxiola/José Angel Cardenas (MEX-A) d Rubén Mora/Dany López (NCA) 2-0 (21-15, 21-14); Yasutaka Sanay/Franky Hernández (MEX-C) d Jesse Parham/Casey Santamaria (CAY) 2-0 (21-9, 21-13); Loser’s Play-Off: Germán Osuna/Leonel Garza (MEX-B) d Yasutaka Sanay/Franky Hernández (MEX-C) 2-0 (18-21, 21-19, 16-14);  Luis García/Erick Garrido (GUA) d Jesse Parham/Casey Santamaria (CAY)  2-0 (21-7, 21-10); QF1: Aaron Nusbaum/ Mike Plantinga (CAN-A) d Karell Peña/ Dasiel Quesada (CUB) 2-0 (21-15, 21-15); QF2: Josue Gaxiola/José Angel Cardenas (MEX-A) d Fiodar Kazhamiaka/ Sergey Grabovsky (CAN-B) 2-0 (21-15, 21-18); QF3: William Reid Priddy/Troy Field (USA-A) d Rubén Mora/Dany López (NCA) 2-1 (25-27, 21-15, 15-11); QF4: Eric Zaun/Edwin Ratledge (USA-B) d  Jamel Alessandre/Victor Castillo (DOM) 2-0 (21-15, 21-15).

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Sports Events Council enthusiastic about the new era of volleyball

Lausanne, Switzerland, January 30, 2018 - FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° chaired the two-day Sports Events Council meeting and talked to members about the exciting developments in volleyball.

The FIVB President was joined by the Presidents of the Continental Confederations, President and Secretary of the Council as well as its members and athletes’ representatives to discuss the new era of volleyball. The delegation spoke at length about the launch of the Volleyball Nations League, an initiative that is set to revolutionise the sport.

At the meeting, President Graça said:

“Let me remind you all that the Volleyball Nations League will be the same event, same format, same prize money, number of teams for men and women. Gender balance in our sport is crucial for the FIVB. Together with our partner, IMG, we will control TV production and distribution, to ensure the consistency of our images and provide a first class experience for our fans all over the world.

“Those teams that do not participate at the Volleyball Nations League will have a chance to participate in the Volleyball Challenger Cup, and earn the right to be promoted to the Volleyball Nations League. This way we are providing more opportunities for national teams to participate in our events!”

The Sports Events Council also talked about the upcoming 2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championships, which will be hosted by Italy and Bulgaria (men’s edition), and Japan (women’s edition). Preparations are underway and both events are set to be great milestones for volleyball.

President Graça also discussed the success of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where volleyball (indoor and beach combined) was the number one sport based on the number of viewer hours according to official IOC data. The FIVB is now working hard to ensure the true celebration of the sport’s return to its Olympic birthplace, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Ariake Arena was confirmed as a host venue for indoor volleyball at the end of 2016, following a number of meetings between the FIVB leadership with the IOC and Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Among other topics discussed during the meeting were the FIVB Volleyball Club World Championships 2018 as well as the FIVB commitments to the digital transformation, establishing of an optimised, global volleyball calendar and review of the World Rankings System.

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Cuba overcame Guatemala and consolidates as favourite

Cuba roared past Guatemala to score an easy 25-14, 25-12, 25-10 victory for their second win as they continue seeking  one of the tickets granted by the II U-23 Pan American Men’s Volleyball Cup for the WCH in 2015.

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Cuba subdues United States in NORCECA U21

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, July 30, 2014 – Cuba displayed overall talent in a dominant performance against United States in the second day of actions in Pool C at the NORCECA U21 Continental Championship taking place at Palacio de los Deportes of San Salvador.

Cuba won by scores of 25-13, 25-16, 25-18 to improve their win-loss record to 2-0 while the United States evened their mark at 1-1.

The Cubans, who one night earlier had dispatched Mexico in four sets, were even better on Wednesday against the Americans. They held big advantages in all the scoring categories.

The Caribbean team had an overwhelming margin in kills (38-21) and in blocks (9-1) while the difference in aces was 5-2. Cuba gained 22 points on American errors while giving away 23 with their own mistakes.

Osmany Uriarte topped Cuba with 17 points, including five blocks, and Abrahan Alfonso added 16.

Quotes

Soren Kindem, United States’ Captain: “They are very strong and we played well but fell short.  Let's learn from this. Every game always helps to improve for the next one.”

Daniel Friend, United States’ Coach: “They have a lot talent and physical conditions. We had problems with the reception, we tried but Cuba's serve was very strong. We know that we can play better. We play fine until 15 points but we must play good until the end.”

Ricardo Calvo, Cuba’s Captain: "We knew we were going out today different than the first game. We went out to give our best. Tomorrow against Nicaragua we can’t get over confident and we will keep the same game."

Pavel Pimienta, Cuba’s Coach: "That's our level, in the first game they came out under pressure, but today they played at their highest. They (the players) came out as I expected, because they came from less to more."

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