Seven teams still remain in the running to fill the remaining three Finals spots, which will all come down to the wire in the last day of the preliminary rounds on Sunday.
The USA, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria and Russia will all battle for the remaining three spots in the finals. Along with a definite win, teams will also need some luck to make the cut. Russia will need to win Sunday 3-0 and hope USA or Brazil loose by the same margin.
On Saturday, USA cruised past Japan 3-1 (25-17, 25-19, 21-25, 25-18). Japan is automatically qualified for the finals, as the host country. The team is currently in eighth place in the rankings, tied with Russia for 17 points.
Brazil staged a straight-set victory against the Netherlands, 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-15) on Saturday. Brazil competes against World No. 30 Kazakhstan on Sunday, in the final match of the last day of preliminary rounds.
In Saturday’s big thriller, World No. 4 Italy lost to World No. 10 Dominican Republic in a 228-point tiebreak match, 3-2 (21-25, 19-25, 32-30, 26-24, 25-11). The loss brings Italy down to No. 5 in the World Grand Prix rankings. While the Finals is out of reach for the Dominican Republic, the team recorded their most victories in one single World Grand Prix edition, with five wins. They recorded four wins in 2008. Italy plays World No. 7 Turkey on Sunday.
In their second meeting in World Grand Prix this year, Turkey swept debutants Algeria in three sets (25-12, 25-12, 25-12). The win puts Turkey, who finished third in last year’s World Grand Prix tournament, in sixth place with 18 points – tied with Bulgaria. Turkey will need to win their match on Sunday against Italy to secure a place in the Finals.
In a match-up of two FIVB World Cup debutants, Bulgaria overcame the Czech Republic 3-2 (20-25, 25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 15-8) on Saturday. Bulgaria could become the second nation ever at the World Grand Prix with a top-6 classification in their debut season (inaugural season 1993 not taken into account).
Russia registered six victories in a row in the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix after pulling off a straight set victory 3-0 (25-8 25-16 25-19) against Puerto Rico on Saturday. Russia currently stands in ninth place in the World Grand Prix rankings and will need to secure a 3-0 win on Sunday against No. 13 Thailand to keep its hopes alive for the Finals. USA or Brazil will need to lose by 3-0 to open a spot in the Finals for Russia.