Italy take in their national anthem having won the FIVB Women’s World Grand Champions Cup title for the first time
Fukuoka, Japan, November 15, 2009 – World number five Italy won the FIVB Women’s World Grand Champions Cup title at their first attempt after completing the 2009 five-day edition unbeaten with a four-set victory over hosts Japan in the final match of the tournament on Sunday. Final days results saw Italy beat Japan 3-1 (32-30, 25-22, 24-26, 25-18), the Dominican Republic beat Korea 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-22) while Brazil beat Thailand 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-18).
The Italian victory in the Marine Messe completes a stellar year for the l’Azzurri after they had already won the Mediterranean Games and the European Championships. The 2007 World Cup champions only conceded three sets all tournament in what was a consummate performance in front of full stadiums all week long and an international television audience including millions worldwide.
Awarding Ceremony Photo Gallery
Italy beat Japan 3-1 (32-30, 25-22, 24-26, 25-18)
Italy took the gold medal at the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup 2009 in a nail-biting two-hour marathon, finishing the tournament unbeaten in five matches, while Japan finished in fourth place with two victories. Once again, Italy relied on the scoring prowess of their second best scorer Francesca Piccinini who registered 18 points while Antonella Del Core and tournament MVP Simona Gioli managed 17 apiece. Erika Araki top-scored for Japan with 20 points. “We didn’t prepare very well, we were very late but then we had two very hard matches,” Italy coach Massimo Barbolini said. “I’m very proud of my team, they showed some determination to win. Some moments they didn’t play very well, but they wanted to win and for a coach it is very nice when you have a team that plays this way.”
Dominican Republic beat Korea 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-22)
The Dominican Republic put themselves into bronze medal contention with a strong win over South Korea. The Dominicans 3-2 record put them ahead of Japan, who needed to beat Italy in the final match of the tournament, to claim third place on points ratio.Korea, meanwhile, ended the tournament in fifth place with one win from five matches. “We had some tough games in this tournament, but it was a really good experience for us to play against the top teams in the world,” a jubilant Dominican Republic coach Marcos Kwiek said. “We learned a lot and discovered many things we need to work on.”
“I think we played the most sets among all six teams – we played 20 sets,” Korea coach Ryu-Hao Suk said. “I think of this tournament as a kind of homework assignment. We need to work on many things, so we'll take this homework home to South Korea and practice to become a better team.”
Brazil beat Thailand 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-18)
Defending champions Brazil defeated Thailand to keep alive their hopes of claiming the gold medal however, Italy’s victory confirmed Brazil for the silver. Their final placing, with one loss out of five matches, completed a run where the world number one has finished 1st in 2007, 4th in 2001 and third in 1997. “We played 45 matches this year,” Brazil coach Ze Roberto said looking ahead to the future. “We lost two and won 43. It's important for our young players to play at this international level.”
Thailand, meanwhile, were participating in their first FIVB Women’s World Grand Champions Cup and were worthy participants. Despite failing to collect a win, they won three sets and a lot of learning experience. “We learned a lot from playing one of the greatest teams in the world, it was an honour for us,” Thailand coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai said. “Our players tried to show their best and I'm satisfied, especially with our service. “
Final Standings: Italy (5:0), Brazil (4:1), Dom Republic (3:2), Japan (2:3), Korea (1:4), Thailand (0:5)