Ankara, Turkey, January 8, 2016. European champions Russia are in the final of the women’s European Olympic Qualifier after beating Turkey 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 25-12, 25-20) at Baskent Hall on Friday. Yuriy Marichev’s side showed why they are still undefeated in the tournament with another display of immense strength. Russia face the Netherlands in the final of the European Olympic Qualifier on Saturday in a direct duel for a single ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Turkey and Italy will play for third place and a ticket to the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan coming up later this year.
Click here for further information and visit also the official website www.ankara2016eq.com
Click here for a live gallery of all matches
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tweet and share your impressions with us using #RoadToRio, #Rio2016 and #Volleyball.
Russia vs Turkey 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 25-12, 25-20)
Baskent Hall was at capacity with a loud and passionate crowd all dressed in red as Pool B winners Russia faced Pool A runners-up Turkey in the knowledge that the Netherlands would be the final opponents. The sound level was high and the Turkish service pressure was big at the beginning of the first set securing Turkey an 8-6 lead at the first technical time-out. At 10-10 the set turned and guided by one of Russia’s strongest servers through the tournament, Tatiana Kosheleva, Marichev’s team were leading 16-10 at the second technical time-out. Turkey have one of the tournament’s best blocking players in Kübra Akman, who had made 12 blocking points before the match, and together with Gözde Kirdar the duo had the honour of bringing Turkey back on even terms at 19-19. Trailing 21-19 Turkey pulled out their very best volleyball and hit six straight points to take the set 25-21.
Turkey’s momentum continued in the second set and they took a swift 4-1 lead. Though, to realise their dreams of qualifying for the final, Turkey had to find a way to stop – or at least minimise the damage – by Russia’s two scoring machines Kosheleva and Nataliia Obmochaeva. Unable to find an immediate solution, Turkey trailed 16-12 at the second technical time-out, and from this point Russia never let up sealing the set at 25-18.
Russia built on their strong finish in the previous set, and strong service by Evgeniya Startseva helped them to a comfortable 8-3 lead at the first technical time-out of the third set. Russia were being conducted by Evgeniya Startseva and they led 16-8 at the second technical time-out. The Turkish setter on the other side of the net was Özge Cemberci Kirdar and she had more difficulties in finding a flow in the Turkish attack. The contrasting situations resulted in Russia easily winning the set 25-12.
The fans in Baskent Hall did their best to support their heroines as the fourth set began and Turkey was 2-1 down. Some spectacular sets seemed to help Turkey lift their game, as they had three points more than Russia (8-5) at the first technical time-out. The crowd continuously shouted ‘Road to Rio, Rio, Rio, Rio’, but Russia plugged away and levelled the score at 11-all before going in front 16-14 at the second technical time-out. Turkey had a taste of the lead at 18-17, but one of the semi-final’s biggest performers, Russia’s Yana Shcherban, served fantastically all the way until 23-18, securing the final Russian win 25-20.
Russian coach Yuriy Marichev: “We got a bad start to the match and lost the first set because we made too many mistakes. The team were able to limit the number of mistakes, and the one thing that has always characterised this team is that they keep fighting all the way to the end.
“We only know one way of playing, and after being beside ourselves in the first set, we found our style again in the second. I am blessed as a coach by having unique players who can take back a match in such manner as they did today. I can be a little bit worried that this match ended too late, as the Netherlands will get a lot more rest than us. We will see in the final tomorrow.”
Russia’s Yana Shcherban: “I am a bit tired and also emotional. My body is feeling good, but we have had some hard matches and Turkey played very good. It was difficult to finish the game today, but we will start with a new game tomorrow.”
“The Netherlands are a very strong opponent. They are good in the attack and are always there in defence, so they will be hard to play against. We will be good tomorrow and bring our best volleyball to the arena.”
Turkey head coach Ferhat Akbas: “We fought a lot and tried our best. At some moments we could stop the attackers of Russia, but that is not an easy job to do. I am somehow happy, because we played a good game and showed all this fighting power until the end of the game. I am going to motivate my players now. We have a very difficult game tomorrow, and we will do everything to beat Italy.
“Italy are a very strong team and also have an experienced team and staff. They have had some ups and downs during this tournament, but they are always dangerous. If we play like we did today, we will win against them I hope.”
Turkey’s Gözde Kirdar: “I am very sad. I think we started the match really good, but were not able to hold onto that level. The Russian attacks were strong and as our reception halted the outcome was right. I am so sorry that we disappointed the many fans who have been here all week. They are truly an amazing crowd and we owe them everything. I hope they will be here on Saturday and give us the necessary support against Italy.”