Twelve teams from around the world, 66 matches, with everyone playing everyone, and a place at the Olympics for the top two teams come the end of the tournament – this is the FIVB Volleyball Men’s and Women’s World Cup Japan 2015, one of the highlights of the current volleyball season.
Traditionally, the top three teams in the men’s and women’s competitions at the World Cup had earned berths in the Olympic Games volleyball tournaments. In 2015, that reward will be offered to the top two sides, following adjustments to the qualification process for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Poland hosted the first World Cup in 1965 for men only before Uruguay hosted the first World Cup for women in 1973.
The women’s (August 22 to September 6) and men’s (September 8 to 23) tournaments will determine the first two teams to join hosts Brazil at the much-anticipated volleyball tournament at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with Japan and television partner Fuji TV host an event that grips the nation.
There are 30 matches in the first round, which takes place over five days. Teams are divided into two pools of six teams. In the second and third rounds, teams play three other teams they had not previously played over six days and 36 matches. Each team must play 11 matches in the space of 16 days – a punishing schedule.
The teams were seeded for the first round according to their world ranking, using the serpentine system. Hosts Japan are the top seeds.
The women’s competition sees a first-round clash between the two favourites: world champions and newly-crowned FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix winners USA and World Championship silver medallists China go head to head on August 24. USA came out on top 3-1 in the final of last year’s FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014. China won the preliminary-round clash in this year’s World Grand Prix, with eventual winners the US hitting back in the final round in Omaha.
The two hot favourites have been paired in Pool B alongside Korea, Serbia, Peru and Algeria. The matches will take place in Matsumoto. Host nation Japan is the top seed in Pool A in Tokyo, where they are joined by the Dominican Republic, Russia, Argentina, Kenya and Cuba. After two rest days, the second round will be played in Sendai and Okayama. A further two rest days are followed by the third round in Nagoya and Komaki. The last match of the tournament sees hosts Japan take on China on September 6. After that, we will know who will take their place on the podium, and who can celebrate securing tickets to the Olympic Games in Rio.
The men’s tournament also sees two of the top favourites meet in the first round: Olympic gold medallists Russia and world champions Poland. This is not the first time these two volleyball giants have met this year. Poland won all four of their FIVB Volleyball World League clashes. They are paired in Pool B and will also take on Argentina, Iran, Venezuela and the African champions (Egypt/Tunisia) in Hamamatsu. The FIVB Volleyball World League 2014 champions USA lead the way in Pool A, which takes place in Hiroshima. John Speraw’s team will face hosts Japan, Italy, Australia, Canada and the second African representative (Tunisia/Egypt). After two rest days, the second round of matches will be played in Osaka and Toyama. They are followed by another two rest days ahead of the third round in the capital, Tokyo.
This is where the winner of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup will be crowned on September 23 – and two lucky countries will have earned their place at the Olympics. The order of the 12 teams in the final table will be determined according to the following: 1. Number of matches won, 2. Number of match points (match won 3-0 or 3-1: 3 match points for the winner, 0 match points for the loser, match won 3-2: 2 match points for the winner, 1 match point for the loser; 3. Set ratio, 4. Point ratio, 5. Result of the match between the tied teams.