The first round includes a total of 30 matches and 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 have not previously played in the tournament over six days and 36 matches. Each team plays 11 matches in the space of 16 days, which is why China’s successful coach “Jenny” Lang Ping left out some of her top players for the final round of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix in Omaha, USA: “I think they need some rest and more sleep to get better prepared physically for the World Cup.”
The teams participating in the World Cup 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 features a first-round clash between the two favourites: world champions and newly-crowned FIVB World Grand Prix winners USA and World Championship silver medallists China, who 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. China won the preliminary-round clash between the two teams in this year’s FIVB World Grand Prix, but eventual winners USA hit back in the Finals in Omaha.
The two favourites have been paired in Pool B along with 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 of matches 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 is on the podium, and who can celebrate securing tickets to the Olympic Games in Rio.
The men’s tournament also sees two of the favourites meet in the first round: Olympic gold medallists Russia and world champions Poland. This will not be the first time these two volleyball giants have met this year. Poland won four out of four matches in the FIVB Volleyball World League. They are paired in Pool B and will also take on Argentina, Iran, Venezuela and the African Champion (Egypt/Tunisia) in Hamamatsu.
2014 FIVB Volleyball World League 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.
The winners of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup will be crowned in Tokyo on September 23 – and two countries will have earned places at the Olympics.
The order of the twelve teams in the final table will be determined in accordance with the following list of priorities: 1. Number of matches won, 2. Number of match points won (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. Sets ratio, 4. Points ratio, 5. Result of the match between the tied teams.