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19/07/2014 15:42
Two sets are enough for Turkey to win first European League title
2014 CEV Volleyball European League - Women

Rüsselsheim, Germany, July 19, 2014. Turkey needed only two sets on Saturday to seize the crown of the 2014 CEV Volleyball European League – Women. After claiming the first leg of the final match with Germany last Wednesday in Bursa by 3:1, the young players around head coach Ferhat Akbas could start their party after winning the first and second sets of the return game played on Saturday in Rüsselsheim. At this stage, Germany’s hopes to go for a golden set had vanished and even though the home heroines won the third set, Turkey finished their job with a well-deserved 3:1 victory (25-19, 25-23, 20-25, 25-20). This is Turkey’s first European League crown after this country had won silver in 2009 and 2011 as well as bronze medal in the 2010 edition. This way Turkey also claimed a spot in the 2015 edition of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix.

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match  

The 3:1 victory claimed last Wednesday in Bursa had provided Turkey with the right edge going into the return match in Rüsselsheim, where the home heroines of Germany were cheered on by 1,300 enthusiastic fans. Turkey’s victory was paved by Kübra Akman and Meliha Ismailoglu who accounted for 18 and 14 points respectively in the end. Akman – a former youth and junior European champion – also received the award for the Most Valuable Player of the finals. Germany was paced by middle-blockers Anja Brandt and Jennifer Pettke, who recorded 14 and 13 points respectively.   

Germany’s head coach Giovanni Guidetti opted for a starting six including Mareen Apitz, Lena Stigrot, Anja Brandt and Jennifer Pettke, Jennifer Geerties and Lisa Izquierdo, plus libero Lisa Thomsen. Turkey’s mentor Ferhat Akbas responded with Cagla Akin, Meliha Ismailoglu, Yeliz Basa, Kübra Akman, Cansu Cetin, Özgenur Yurtdagülen, and libero Hatice Gizem Örge. 

Turkey started off strong leading the way 8:5 at the first technical time-out of the opening set. The guests served strong whereas Germany evidently had problems in reception and this negative trend continued throughout the set. Though the home favourites did their best to change the course of the game, it looked like this was some kind of carbon copy of the match played last Wednesday in Bursa. Akman shocked Germany with four consecutive blocks to make it 16:8 at the second technical time-out while Ismailoglu recorded seven points all alone in this set as she killed 56% of her attacks; Turkey did not look back and after leading 24:15, Akman sealed the final 25-19 cashing the fourth set ball for the visiting team.   

At this stage the game had already turned into an uphill climb for Germany that needed to sweep three sets to keep alive their chances to retain the crown they had seized last year in Varna. The home mentor Giovanni Guidetti surprised the audience by replacing Stigrot with Louisa Lippmann who returned to action after suffering an injury last week in Dessau. It was a good move that helped stop Turkey’s momentum and Germany went up 8:6 at the first technical time-out. Germany played much better than in the opening set, with faster and smarter combinations whereby the home heroines found their way through the Turkish block widening their lead to 17:14. However, it was not yet over as Turkey responded by scoring six consecutive points (including three blocks) to flip the charts around and make it 20:17 in their favour. Germany tried to put more pressure on the Turkish defence and with two blocks restored the balance at 22 all. Still, it was their last moment of glory for Turkey cashed their second set ball at 25-23 and this way made sure they would win gold.

The disappointed German audience did not stop cheering on the home side in the third set where their players got a narrow margin (16:14) at the second technical time-out. Even though they knew they had already lost their chances to win the final, Germany did not give in and finished the set at 25-20 recording a remarkable 48% in attack, whereas that figure had dropped down to 38% for Turkey.    

Still both teams found it difficult to keep up their motivation and focus; the fourth set was another close fight up to 9 all, before Germany’s defence collapsed. Turkey scored another six straight points – like they had done in the second set – claiming an 18:12 lead and this way practically closed the match. A misunderstanding between setter Mareen Apitz and Carina Aulenbrock ended the story at 25-20 for Turkey and the guests could start celebrating their first European League title in history.

“I am very happy for my friend and colleague Ferhat,” Germany’s head coach Giovanni Guidetti said. “Turkey played good Volleyball and deserved to win. After these two matches we have to acknowledge and accept that the difference between our teams was too big and our performance was not good enough. We started this European League without any high hope and I am therefore satisfied that we made it to the final.”

“We are a little bit sad,” added team captain Lena Möllers, “because we believed in us and wanted to win this match. We did not deliver our best performance today but I am proud that we reached the final with this young group. Everyone made a big step forward during this European League and so it was great.”

“I want to thank my players and the whole staff,” said Turkey’s mentor Ferhat Akbas, who is Guidetti’s assistant at VakifBank. “We improved our performance throughout this European League and I am very happy to be the champion with these young players.”

“I am very happy to win this title,” stressed Turkey’s captain Gözde Yilmaz. “This is the first gold medal in history for a Turkish national team and that is what we have been working for over the last two months. It was great that so many fans came here to support us and I would like to thank them all.”

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