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27/06/2015 17:10
Turkey’s women claim gold at first ever European Games for historic day in their country’s sporting history
2015 European Games

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 27, 2015. After 38 matches played at Crystal Hall – one of Baku’s landmarks and most iconic venues – Turkey’s women were the ones to celebrate as they claimed the gold medal of the first, historic European Games following a terrific performance in a pretty one-sided final match with Poland (25-11, 25-19, 25-13). This achievement accounts for the most prestigious accolade ever claimed by the Turkish women’s national team following the silver and bronze medals won in the 2003 and 2011 editions of the European Championships, respectively.

Though Turkey have a number of medals also from the CEV Volleyball European League – including gold from the 2014 edition – and a bronze from the 2012 FIVB World Grand Prix, June 27, 2015 will remain in history for it coincides with the country’s first ‘major’ international title in women’s Volleyball. Poland had to be content with silver – their first international medal since winning bronze at a home European Championship in 2009 – with the podium completed by Serbia that earlier in the day had upset more than 4,000 home fans with their come-from-behind 3:2 win (21-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-14, 15-9) over hosts Azerbaijan.  

Click here for a live gallery of all the matches of the day.  
Click here for more information, including statistics and results.    

Turkey vs. Poland 3:0 (25-11, 25-19, 25-13)

Two weeks after crossing their ways on the opening day of the women’s Volleyball competition at the Baku 2015 European Games, Poland and Turkey were once again standing on opposite sides of the net but this time around there was a lot more to play for since a gold medal and the title of first ever European Games champions were at stake.

Back two weeks ago Poland had claimed a 3:2 win to complete the first ‘night session’ of the Games and this remained Turkey’s only loss in the tournament going into the final. The ‘Sultans of the Net’ were therefore extra motivated to make amends for that setback and were hoping to emulate what Germany had done on Friday in the men’s semis where the guys mentored by Vital Heynen had stormed back from an earlier defeat in the tournament to edge Russia and get the right to vie for gold.

Unfortunately some of the Azerbaijani fans had left Crystal Hall following the disappointment resulting from their heroines’ setback in the bronze medal match with Serbia but still a large crowd was in attendance and most likely to support the players from Azerbaijan’s sister country, Turkey.  

The final was also expected to turn into a duel between the top scoring duo of each side – Gözde Yilmaz and Neriman Ozsoy for Turkey, Katarzyna Zaroslinska and Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata for Poland – and it was clear that the performance of these four players was going to have a huge impact on the final result. Turkey imposed their pace right from the outset of the match scoring six consecutive points for a 6:0 run to assert their clear intentions to go for gold and show their determination to add another chapter to the success story of a country that has literally dominated the European Volleyball scene – especially in club competitions – in recent times. Though Poland slowly found their way into the game, Turkey nevertheless enjoyed a comfortable lead at the second technical time-out (16:9) and their demonstration of power continued all the way through to the final 25-11 sealed by Polen Uslupehlivan.

After this huge setback, Poland could not waste any more time and had to react right from the early stages of the second set in order to keep their dreams of glory alive. The ladies in white shirts did briefly succeed in achieving this goal (4:4) but still trailed by two points at the first technical time-out. Poland seemed to feel the fatigue from such long tournament whilst Turkey, on the other hand, continued their demonstration of world-class Volleyball, shining in all aspects of the game, with spectacular defence actions delighting the many Turkish fans in attendance. The enthusiasm and the decibels reached their peak as Uslupehlivan finished a long, exciting rally for the 10:8 Turkey’s way but Poland equalised the score only a few moments later at 10 all. Zaroslinska was finally on fire but it was Ozsoy to score – even suffering a slight injury which nevertheless did not prevent her from continuing the game – to call for the second technical time-out with Turkey leading 16:13. The performance displayed by team captain Güldeniz Önal and her colleagues was just flawless and they quite easily cashed also the second stanza of the final (25-19) to be only one set away from a would-be historic gold medal at the first ever European Games.

At some point it felt like being in Istanbul or Ankara as the crowd was cheering Turkey on with so much passion and the ladies in red shirts responded by continuing their show of strength. Poland’s mentor Jacek Nawrocki opted for team captain Izabela Belcik to replace starting setter Joanna Wolosz but everything went just fine for Turkey and their run towards gold was just unstoppable. A 16:9 lead at the second technical break seemed to be enough to wrap this final up in three quick sets and this scenario turned into reality once Polen Uslupehlivan smashed the Mikasa down the line to cash the first gold medal point for her side (25-13). 

“Our feeling right now is not easy to describe. We are really happy, we are proud for what we did; I am proud of my players, because all of them played great today. I was expecting a difficult match because the Polish team has very good and experienced players but they couldn’t answer to our game. We played at a very high level and we are happy for this. All the victories are important for us and for Turkish Volleyball, because our sport is very important in our country; I think that this medal gives us even more relevance,” declared the young coach of Turkey – only 29 years of age – Ferhat Akbas.

“This is the biggest success of a Polish women’s team in six years since we won bronze at the CEV European Championship in 2009. The silver is very important for us. Turkey was stronger than us today, so big congratulations to them. We showed how much potential there is in this team. We did not have much time to prepare for this competition so the European Games also worked as a practice tournament for us in the preparation towards the European qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Now I look forward to a much needed rest,” said Poland’s outside spiker Anna Werblinska.

Final standing
1.    Turkey
2.    Poland
3.    Serbia
4.    Azerbaijan
5.    Belgium
       The Netherlands
9.    Bulgaria
11.  Croatia

News nr. 3 of 100
27/06/2015 18:26:00
Baku 2015 European Games Closing Ceremony will provide ‘a lasting memory of creating history in Azerbaijan’
27/06/2015 16:08:00
Serbia shatter Azerbaijani dreams of glory and win bronze medal in Baku

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