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18/08/2013 23:00
Serbia and Italy qualify for World Grand Prix Finals
2013 FIVB World Grand Prix

Lausanne, Switzerland, August 18, 2013. Undefeated China, 2012 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix gold medalists USA, World No. 9 Serbia, World No. 4 Italy, 2012 Olympic champions Brazil and 2013 World Grand Prix Finals’ hosts Japan have secured their place in this year’s World Grand Prix Finals in Sapporo, Japan from August 28 to September 1. 
Seven teams battled to fill the remaining three finals spots on Sunday; the last day of the preliminary rounds. China and Serbia confirmed their Finals spot earlier this week with their strong records, while Japan already got a spot as hosts. China will enter the World Grand Prix Finals as the only undefeated team, after beating Serbia in a tiebreak match on Sunday, 3-2 (25-17, 25-27, 25-20, 23-25, 15-5). China’s first-ever victory against Serbia in the World Grand Prix confirmed their best start to the competition with nine consecutive victories, and gave them first place in the qualification round. Serbia is tied with Brazil for second place in the World Grand Prix Rankings with 23 points.  

World No. 1 USA – who won gold in last year’s World Grand Prix – was the first team to fill a Finals spot on Sunday with a 3-2 win against debutants Bulgaria (16-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-15, 15-8). USA is in fourth place in the 2012 World Grand Prix rankings behind China, and will aim for an unprecedented fourth straight World Grand Prix title at this year’s Finals. Bulgaria ends their debut season with 19 points, six wins and three losses. “We’ve had challenging pools every weekend and I’m excited to get to the Finals,” USA captain Kristin Hildebrand said at a press conference following the match.  

World No 4 Italy secured a much-needed win in a thrilling tiebreak match against No. 7 Turkey on Sunday, securing their place in the Finals and ending Turkey’s 2013 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix campaign. Sunday’s match was a do-or-die for each team, who needed the win to move onto the finals. Italy, who finished 10th in last year’s World Grand Prix, has secured a spot in the top six teams qualified for the Finals, with a fifth place finish and 21 points. Italy also keeps a perfect World Grand Prix record against last year’s bronze medal winners, Turkey, with two wins in two games. Turkey ends this year’s campaign with 19 points, six wins and three losses.  

Brazil confirmed their place in the finals of the 2013 World Grand Prix with another straight-set win (25-17, 25-16, and 25-10) against Kazakhstan in the last match of the day on Sunday. The victory meant Brazil moved into second place in the preliminary round classification with 23 points, behind China. The South Americans will make their 10th consecutive appearance in the World Grand Prix Finals.  

In an entertaining showdown, Japan – pre-qualified for the Finals as hosts – overcame the Czech Republic 3-2 (25-18, 22-25, 28-26, 23-25, 15-13) on Sunday. Japan raised their record in the World Grand Prix to 7-2 and 19 points, while the Czechs dropped to 2-7, with 8 points.  

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