USA, Brazil Favorites at 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix

The 25th edition of the FIVB World Grand Prix kicks off on July 7th and runs through to August 6th. Once again, the volleyball world looks to China as they host the event for the eighth time. This year the action will take place in the ancient city of Nanjing, with 32 countries vying for the biggest title in volleyball outside of the Olympics.

As they often do, Brazil enters as the defending champion. Over the years, the Brazilians have collected 11 Grand Prix Golds and 18 medals, overall, far more than any other country. They have won three of the last four competitions.

The USA is the only other country to win gold in the last four years, doing so on home soil in 2015. Before that, the US team won three consecutive GPs from 2010 to 2012, beating Brazil in the finals each time.

In sum, Brazil and the US have dominated the Grand Prix for close to a decade, and they’ll be the nations to watch coming into this year’s competition. Will Brazil make it two in a row, can the US reclaim the gold, or will the home team surprise? Let’s take a look at the odds to win gold and the individual awards.

2017 FIVB World Grand Prix Odds

Odds to win gold

USA: 7/3
Brazil: 7/3
China: 17/3
Serbia: 9/1
Netherlands: 15/1
Russia: 20/1

As discussed, the US and Brazil head the pack, but China and Serbia aren’t far behind.

The Chinese team is flying high after snapping up Olympic gold in Rio, and they’ll have home-court advantage this year. They’ll be public enemy number one for the Brazilians, though, after they knocked Brazil out of the Olympics in the quarterfinals. Similarly, the US will have vengeance on the mind if they meet Serbia. The Serbs ousted the Americans in the Olympic semis in a thrilling five-set match.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands and Russia shouldn’t be overlooked. Both have been a constant fixture in the final rounds. Having said that, the last time a team other than Brazil or the US won the competition was back in 2008. There’s nothing separating the two big favorites when it comes to the odds.

Odds an American player is awarded MVP: 7/3

The MVP always comes from the winning team. So it’s not a coincidence that the chances of an American winning are identical to the team’s chances at gold. Which player it would be is a much more interesting query.

Odds the following American’s win MVP

Christa Harmotto: 9/1
Karsta Lowe: 12/1
Megan Hodge: 12/1
Foluke Akinradewo: 15/1

The US team has quite a few MVP hopefuls in their lineup. There’s Karsta Lowe, who claimed the award in 2015 when the US won their last Grand Prix. Then there’s Foluke Akinradewo and Megan Hodge, who were awarded the honor during the 2010-12 trifecta.

But first on the list is captain Christa Harmotto, a three-time AVCA All-American. She has two Olympic medals to her name and countless competition wins.

Odds on individual accolades

Odds Kimberley Hill wins Best Outside Hitter: 7/3
Odds Alisha Glass wins Best Setter: 4/1
Odds Foluke Akinradewo wins Best Blocker: 13/7
Odds Rachael Adams wins Best Blocker: 7/3

Along with Brazilian Sheilla Castro, Kimberly Hill took the Best Outside Hitter award last year. Meanwhile, Alisha Glass was the Best Setter at last year’s Olympics.

Foluke Akinradewo and Rachael Adams were among the best blockers at the Olympics, and Adams took the prize last year at the Grand Prix.

Photo credit: Herica Suzuki [CC BY 2.0 (].