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Lausanne, Switzerland, September 14, 2016 - Las Panteras, the Argentine Seniors' Women Team will start their World Grand Prix 2017 Preliminary Round participation playing at home (place to be confirmed very shortly in Group2, July 7th - 9th, to travel for the other two weekends of the Preliminary Round to Poland and Croatia.

After their first ever historical participation at the Olympic Games 2016, the Argentine National Women Team is already planning their 2017 international season and once more - this year Argentina received the World Grand Prix in Tucuman - will open the premier Women's Teams competition organized by the FIVB v Poland, Canada and Croatia.

Then, July 14th - 16th, the second weekend will take place for the Albicelestes in Poland, facing the host team, Korea and Peru while on the third one, July 21st - 23rd, they will travel to Croatia to face the host team, Bulgaria and Puerto Rico.

Olympic champions China will take on silver medallists Serbia in the third week of the 2017 edition of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix after the draw for next year’s competition was held at the World Grand Prix Council meeting in Lausanne on Wednesday.

The World Grand Prix Council also confirmed that next year’s competition will feature record prize money of $600,000 and a record number of teams - increasing from 28 in 2016 to 32 in 2017 - with Group 2 expanding to 12 teams. Trinidad & Tobago, Azerbaijan, Hungary and Cameroon have joined Group 3 allowing Kenya to remain in Group 2 while Korea returns and Group 3 silver and bronze medallists Kazakhstan and Peru join Group 3 winners Croatia in Group 2.

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The draw, which was overseen by FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° and conducted by FIVB 1st Executive Vice President and World Grand Prix Council Secretary Cristobal Marte Hoffiz, sees Turkey host title-holders Brazil, Belgium and Serbia on the opening weekend of matches, while China will host USA, Russia and Italy in Pool B1 and the Netherlands will welcome the Dominican.

The second weekend from July 14-16 will also feature the most common encounter in World Grand Prix history when Japan host Brazil, alongside Thailand and Serbia. Brazil lead the head to head 35:4.

Meanwhile, a repeat of this year’s FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix final between Brazil and USA will take place in Week 3 on the weekend of July 21-23 in Brazil.

The venues in each country will be confirmed at a later date while the venues of the Finals will be confirmed in the coming weeks with China (Group 1), Czech Republic, Germany and Poland (Group 2) and Australia (Group 3) already having expressed interest.

The World Grand Prix Council confirmed that the same format as the 2016 competition will remain. The 32 teams have been split into three groups (12 teams in Group 1 and Groups 2 and eight teams in Group 3) and will play the Preliminary Round in a pool format over three weeks, before the best teams (four for Groups 2 & 3 and six for Group 1) gather for the Finals in each Group.

The top teams in each Group in 2016 are promoted for next year's competition, while the bottom teams are relegated with Kenya in Group 2 being the exception. Germany move down from Group 1 to Group 2 in 2017 while the Group 1 Preliminary Round will take place from July 7-9, July 14-16 and July 21-23, and be followed by the Finals, featuring six teams, from August 2-6. The Group 2 Preliminary Round dates are the same as for Group 1 - the Finals, featuring four teams, will take place from July 28-30. Finally, the Group 3 Preliminary Round will take place on July 7-9 and July 14-16, with Finals on July 21-23.

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 player Dominican Republic will play in Group 1 while Croatia are promoted to Group 2.