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20/03/2011 00:00
VakifGunesTTelekom completes Turkish fairy tale in Istanbul
2011 CEV Champions League - Women

Istanbul, Turkey, March 20, 2011. After the major sensation already caused in yesterday’s semifinal by defeating the pre-favorites of FenerbahceAcibadem, the girls of VakifGunesTTelekom ISTANBUL completed a memorable weekend to turn into Turkey’s first club in history being able to claim the CEV Champions League. It was an almost one-sided final game (3:0, 25-13, 25-20, 25-18), but mostly because the team mentored by Giovanni Guidetti displayed a performance that was absolutely outstanding in every single fundamental and left no chance at all to the Azeri glories of Rabita BAKU. Two-time European champion Malgorzata Glinka could not ask for more to complete her splendid comeback in the international Volleyball arena after a two-year long pause as she won the trophy she had longed for since the start of her career and she was even chosen as MVP of this stellar final four.

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Click here for a selection of the best pictures shot during this game and here for some pics of the award ceremony

After four months of exciting games and hard-fought battles, the last act of the 2011 CEV Champions League was celebrated this afternoon in a fully packed “Burhan Felek” Volleyball Hall and regardless of its final outcome, history was certainly going to be re-written as Azerbaijan and Turkey had both never won Europe’s most elitist competition so far. A good share of the colorful fans of Fenerbahce had stayed there after the end of the classification game claimed by their heroines but they were joined also by some 700 fans of Rabita who had traveled this weekend from Baku to watch their girls possibly contributing even more joy to a country that is totally fond of this sport.

It was Volleyball at its finest, as it actually is meant to be whenever the most prestigious European trophy is at stake and the players of VakifGunes started relaxed but confident enough, still powered by the incredible motivation and stamina stemming from the sensation they had caused yesterday in the derby with Fenerbahce. On the other hand, Mammadova did not wait too long to fire up her personal show, attacking and regularly scoring from any position. However, although yesterday – as per the words of Scavolini coach Paolo Tofoli – she showed that one player can make the difference, and actually she did in the semi with the Italians, the teamwork displayed by VakifGunesTTelekom was absolutely outstanding, as it was their defense: almost no ball was touching the ground, while Nikolic, Glinka and captain Gözde Sonsirma were perfectly executing their job in attack (19:10). In its only previous participation in the final four of the Champions League, VakifGunes had finished fourth in Cannes 5 years ago but this time it seemed that the plan worked out by their Italian-born mentor Giovanni Guidetti could not have been better and more accurate. VakifGunes had full command of the operations and a splendid attack of their captain Gözde Sonsirma sealed a massive 25-13 that seemed to question and put in real danger the Azeri ambitions to bring home the cup.

VakifGunes played some wonderful Volleyball also in the opening of the second set, once again with a perfect block-defense system, although the difference was made also by the efficiency of their attackers who had stood at 50% vs. 25% for Rabita in set 1. Sanja Starovic and Natasa Krsmanovic – Rabita was actually lining up a good share of Serbia’s national team, whose captain, Jelena Nikolic, was curiously playing on the other side of the net – drew the count to 6 all, after Starovic had delighted the audience by catching the ball with her left foot after being blocked and a few seconds later successfully completed the next counterattack. However, Nikolic and Poljak widened the gap for the Turks (11:7), forcing Rabita coach Dejan Brdjovic to seek “refuge” in a time-out: it was all in vain as VakifGunes looked unstoppable, Maja Poljak avoided the block of Rabita to stamp the provisional 14:7 and the Turkish march continued almost without any break also after the second mandatory stop. Rabita was a faded copy of the team that yesterday had historically pocketed a ticket for the final game, as the girls in yellow jerseys were probably feeling the pressure and responsibility descending from such a unique scenario and opportunity. Starovic tried to relight the Azeri hopes, cut a bit the gap to 23:19, but the next couple of rallies fully belonged to VakifGunes.

It was a wonderful day also for Poland’s glory Malgorzata Glinka-Mogentale who had stopped playing Volleyball for 2 years, had a baby and then decided to come back this year by accepting the proposal of VakifGunes to play in Turkey’s national league as well as in the CEV Champions League, a competition she had never claimed before in her already long and well decorated career. Rabita did not have any chance to turn the game around until the girls around Giovanni Guidetti started feeling some pressure right after the second technical break of set 3 as they were already glancing at the finish line of a memorable weekend. Guidetti succeeded in calming down his protégés who – after a time-out at 16:13 - booked five out of the next six rallies. Captain Gözde Sonsirma showed off all of her repertoire with a delicious tip to go for the 23:16 and she was the lady that contributed also the last point for a magical moment in the history of Volleyball here in Turkey.

Individual Awards

MVP: Malgorzata Glinka-Mogentale (POL/VakifGunesTTelekom ISTANBUL)
Best Blocker: Maja Poljak (CRO/VakifGunesTTelekom ISTANBUL)
Best Libero: Gizem Güresen (TUR/VakifGunesTTelekom ISTANBUL)
Best Receiver: Gözde Sonsirma (TUR/VakifGunesTTelekom ISTANBUL)
Best Scorer: Jelena Nikolic (SRB/VakifGunesTTelekom ISTANBUL)
Best Server: Natalya Mammadova (AZE/Rabita BAKU)
Best Setter: Özge Cemberci Kirdar (TUR/VakifGunesTTelekom ISTANBUL)
Best Spiker: Manon Flier (NED/Scavolini PESARO)

News nr. 15 of 21
Glinka joins Poland's most elitist club
World champion FenerbahceAcibadem saves honor by claiming bronze medal
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