All-conquering Beijing Olympic gold medalists Brazil brushed aside Japan to romp to a record eighth title at the World Grand Prix women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday.
The Brazilians, who did not lose a single match in the three qualifying weeks, chalked up a 25-21, 25-27, 25-19, 25-19 victory to complete five straight wins out of five in the six-team round robin final tournament.
Welissa Gonzaga scored the team’s best haul of 19 points, while Sheilla Castro chipped in with 16 points, leading Brazil to win the top prize of US$200,000.
“We struggled in the beginning, especially against Japanese serves, because they are different from our usual opponents. But in the end, we were able to clinch the title,” Brazilian captain Danielle Lins said. “I’m really happy that we, with these new players, made it.”
Brazil coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes said it was important for his “new generation” team to play tough matches.
It was a double victory for Castro, who received the most valuable player’s award and an extra prize of US$15,000.
“This is a victory that everybody — players, coaches and staff — fought for it together,” Castro said.
Earlier, world champions Russia saw off the Netherlands 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 to secure second place with a 4-1 win-loss record, while Germany defeated China 25-14, 23-25, 25-21, 25-14.
“Basically, today’s match doesn’t mean a lot for us, but I’m very satisfied that my players performed very well,” Russian coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin said.
“We missed the gold medal after losing to Brazil, but I’m satisfied with the runners-up place in the World Grand Prix. I’m also satisfied that my players did an excellent job,” he said.
The Netherlands missed out on a medal with a 2-3 record, the same as Germany, who took third place thanks to a better points ratio. China and Japan both ended with 1-4, with the hosts finishing bottom of the pile.
Japanese couple Rikiya and Ayumi Kataoka had their honeymoon wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but their resourcefulness in enforced exile in Cape Verde has won them appointments as ambassadors for its Olympic team. The Kataokas had completed a third of their round-the-world trip when a suspension in long-haul flights stranded them for five months in the archipelago of 10 tiny islands off the coast of West Africa. Unable to resume their journey to Europe and then home to Japan, and unwilling to head to the African mainland, where virus cases are spiking, they had to trade their skills with domestic businesses to
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