U.S. Women to Face Olympic Champion Twice in 2017 World Grand Prix

By Bill Kauffman (bill.kauffman@usav.org) | Sept. 14, 2016, 7:54 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Sept. 14, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team, ranked second in the world, will face 2016 Olympic Games champion China and Italy twice during the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix Group 1 preliminary round, as announced by the FIVB on Wednesday.

Team USA, which has won the World Grand Prix six times with four of the titles coming since 2010, opens the three-weekend preliminary round phase in China with matches against Russia, Italy and the host Chinese from July 7-9. The Americans remain in China for the second weekend and will play Turkey, Italy and China from July 14-16. The U.S. will make the long trek to Brazil for the final preliminary round weekend July 21-23 when it will face Netherlands, Belgium and Brazil.

Related: U.S. Women's Olympic Games Microsite | 2016 FIVB World Grand Prix Recap

The tournament is the premier annual international women’s volleyball tournament. The 2017 edition marks the first major event following the 2016 Olympic Games in which the Americans finished with the bronze medal.

The World Grand Prix Group 1 has 12 teams each playing nine matches in the preliminary round. Each weekend has three sites of four teams playing round-robin matches. The cities and venues for each preliminary round site will be confirmed at a later date.

The top five teams through the preliminary phase plus the to-be-announced Final Round host country will compete Aug. 2-6 for the World Grand Prix title.

According to the FIVB, participating teams will have to feature eight players out of 14 from the last World Grand Prix and six players out of 12 from the last Olympic Games. Teams will register 21 players six weeks before the beginning of the competition, bringing that list down to 18 players four weeks before the beginning of the competition and down to 14 players at two days before the start of play.

The U.S. captured the silver medal in the 2016 FIVB World Grand Prix, which Brazil won in an exciting five set match in Bangkok, Thailand. The Americans split with China in the preliminary round and again during the Finals Round pool play.

The World Grand Prix Council also confirmed next year’s competition will feature a record prize money of $600,000 and a record number of teams – increasing from 28 in 2016 to 32 in 2017. Group 2 will expand to 12 team and Group 3 remaining at eight teams.

2017 FIVB World Grand Prix Group 1

July 7-9
Pool A1 (in Turkey): Belgium, Belgium, Turkey, Serbia
Pool B1 (in China): China, Italy, Russia, USA
Pool C1 (in Netherlands): Dominican Republic, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand

July 14-16
Pool D1 (in Japan): Brazil, Japan, Serbia, Thailand
Pool E1 (in China): China, Italy, Turkey, USA
Pool F1 (in Russia): Belgium, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Russia

July 21-23
Pool G1 (in China): China, Japan, Russia, Serbia
Pool H1 (in Thailand): Dominican Republic, Italy, Thailand, Turkey
Pool I1 (in Brazil): Belgium, Brazil, Netherlands, USA

FIVB World Grand Prix Group 1 Finals
Aug. 2-6 - Site TBA

2017 FIVB World Grand Prix Group 2
July 7-30
Teams: Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico

2017 FIVB World Grand Prix Group 3
July 7-23
Teams: Algeria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago