Macau, China, 25 Aug – Eight-time title winners Brazil, defending event champions the United States, Russia and Serbia claimed opening victories in the final round of the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix kicking off here on Wednesday.
Finishing top of the preliminary rounds with an unbeaten 9-0 record, the Brazilian women clean swept former world champions Italy 3-0 in Group B where the United States beat Japan in straight sets.
Towering middle blocker Thaisa Menezes of Brazil notched up 17 points and Sheilla Castro and Fabiana Claudino added 13 and 12 respectively as the World No. 1 team trounced Italy 25-16, 25-17 and 25-17.
In Group A, Russia held off Thailand 3-1 while World Grand Prix newcomers Serbia twice rallied from one set down to edge China in a five-set thriller.
Earlier on Wednesday, USA did all the right things offensively and defensively to see off Japan 25-22, 25-17 and 25-23 in the opening match of final round. Destinee Hooker led the Americans with 19 points after converting on 16 of her 29 attacking attempts with Jordan Larson produced four aces to add a total of 13 points.
Reigning world champions Russia held off a late surge of Thailand to score an opening 25-18, 25-22, 25-27, 25-17 victory in the eight-team final round.
Evgeniya Startseva had 21 smashes, 4 blocks and an ace to contribute 26 points for Russia with Nataliya Goncharova and Lesya Makhno adding 20 and 18 respectively.
In the last match of the day, the Serbian women rallied past the hosts China 20-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-16 and 18-16 for a good start in their first journey to World Grand Prix final round.
After three days of pool play, top two finishers from each group will advance to Saturday’s semi-finals.(MacauNews/Sports)