Turkey celebrate qualification for the World Grand Prix Finals
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULAug 19, 2014 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Aug 19, 2014 12:00 am
'The Sultans of the Net' saw off Italy in four sets in the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix, booking their place at the Finals in Tokyo in the process
Turkey rallied to defeat Italy 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 25-23) in their final preliminary round match of the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix in Yantarny on Sunday to book their place in the final round. It is the second time Turkey have reached the finals after their effort in 2012 where they won bronze. And this is the first time Turkey have beaten Italy in the World Grand Prix. Italy won the last two meetings between the sides in 2008 and 2013.
Turkey started the match well to push out to an 8-4 lead after a serve from Gözde Sonsırma. Turkey continued to push Italy and after an ace from Neriman Özsoy, Italy coach Marco Bonitta asked for a time out. There was no improvement from the Italian side as they pulled back to 16-11. Italy reduced the advantage even more, forcing Massimo Barbolini to call for a timeout. After a block from Sara Bonifacio and a serve from Cristina Chirichella, Italy looked to be on the cusp of winning the set.
But Turkey reacted immediately to steal the frame. Italy again took a lead in the second on the back of spikes from Francesca Piccinini.
But the Turkish block adjusted to pull within two points. Italy began to make a few mistakes and the offensive play of Kübra Akman and Neriman Özsoy saw Turkey storm four points ahead. Italy tried to reduce the gap and Valentina Diouf attacked well. But her efforts were in vain as Turkey moved two ahead.
Turkey carried that momentum into the third with Gözde Sonsırma serving well. But Italy again reacted, forcing Barbolini to call for another time out. But it failed to stop the rot as Italy surged further ahead. Turkey regrouped and cut out the mistakes but Italy maintained a stranglehold on the set to pull a set back.
Italy put up a tough fight early in the fourth with Francesca Piccinini causing problems with the spike. A timeout saw Turkey level the scores at 5-5 before increasing the gap on the back of Italian mistakes. They maintained their four-point advantage with the help of Bahar Toksoy. But Italy came back to set up an electric finish to the set. But it was Turkey who came out on top eventually to book their ticket to Tokyo.
Turkey captain Gözde Sonsırma: "It is very important for us. We want to play in the Final Six very much. We were close to points and we put maximum efforts in for this victory." Turkey coach Massimo Barbolini: "I am very happy that we won today. We played a very strong team. At the beginning of the tournament we had only one dream - to play in the Final Six. I would like to thank my team for this result. We go to Japan."
Italy captain Francesca Piccinini said, "We understood the importance of the match because it was a chance to play in Final Six. We did our best to play well today. But we lost because Turkey played much better."
Italy coach Marco Bonitta said, "It is time to think about the World Championships. I think we used all our effort and luck for the best game in the World Grand Prix. But positives for us ended today because our libero suffered a serious injury. I thank Kaliningrad, Russia and the Volleyball Federation of Russia for the hospitality."
Separately, Russia eased to a straight sets (27-25, 26-24, 26-24) win over Germany in front of their home fans in Kaliningrad DC Yantarny on Sunday to seal the final spot in the Finals.It was the 11th win from 12 meetings in the World Grand Prix for Russia over Germany. The hosts earned a ticket to the Finals in Tokyo with the win Russia's Tatiana Kosheleva topped the scoreboards with 26 points including 19 spikes. U.S. had done everything asked of them in their Pool G clash with the Dominican Republic.
They picked up a 3-1 (25-21, 15-25, 25-19, 29-27) win over their Caribbean rivals but were forced to rely on results in other matches, which unfortunately for the Americans didn't go their way. In the other match from the pool Brazil beat hosts Thailand in straights sets (25-15, 25-18, 25-17). Korea captain Kim Yeon-Koung scored 30 points in her side's four set (20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 26-24) win over Serbia. The victory took them to 13 points to give them an early outside chance of making the finals but this hope was quickly extinguished. Japan saw off Asian rivals China 3-1 (25-20, 25-22, 18-25, 28-26) in the other Pool I match. Finally Bulgaria secured their place in Group 2 next year by wrapping up the Group 3 final. They saw off the Czech Republic in straight sets (25-16, 25-13, 25-17) in front of their home fans in Samokov to gain promotion. Croatia finished third by beating Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-17).