Turkey and Italy secure ticket to #FIVBWomensU23 World Champs
2017 FIVB U23 Women's Volleyball World Championships - European Qualification
Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia, July 31, 2016. On Sunday afternoon Turkey cruised to a 3-0 victory in their matchup with Bulgaria to secure their qualification to next year’s FIVB Women’s U23 World Championship. The Turks finished the tournament held in Vrnjačka Banja on a 4-1 win-loss record to claim first place in the final standing. Later in the afternoon Italy recorded a 3-1 victory in their match with hosts Serbia to secure their progression to next year’s World Championship as well and shatter Bulgaria’s dreams of achieving this feat. Italy join Turkey and hosts Slovenia to compose the European contingent for the tournament that in 2017 will crown the new U23 world champions.
Bulgaria vs. Turkey 0-3 (24-26, 20-25, 21-25)
On Sunday afternoon Turkey became the first team to secure their qualification to next year’s U23 World Championship from the European qualifier in Vrnjačka Banja. Turkey played extremely well, especially in defence, and this way they took three points from their last matchup in the competition. As for Bulgaria, though they were passionately supported by some loud fans, they could not pose a real threat to their opponent even though they kept fighting for every point through to the end.
Turkey coach Ferhat Akbaş is already focussed on next year and the global championship that will be taking place in Slovenia: “Winning is a big part in every sportsman’s life and I am very happy now. I hope we will be as good as this or even better next year. I wish good luck to all other teams. I would like to thank the CEV and the Volleyball Federation of Serbia for a very well-organised tournament here in Vrnjačka Banja.”
Bulgaria coach Nikolay Ivanov stayed optimistic, waiting for the match between Italy and Serbia to know his team’s fate: “We still have a little chance to qualify, but we will see. This wasn’t our best match, we had problems with our serve and reception. However, this was a good tournament for us and I am proud of my team.”
Melis Yilmaz, Turkey’s libero, delivered some really nice defence actions: “We knew this tournament was not going to be easy. Every match was difficult. We started very good and then we lost against Poland, so we had to win every match till the end. We found a way to play withstanding the pressure.”
Nursevil Aydinlar, captain of Turkey, was proud of her team: “We knew coming here we were among the best teams at this tournament, but everything was challenging for us. We had to go step by step and we are very happy with this win.”
Serbia vs. Italy 1-3 (22-25, 15-25, 25-18, 24-26)
Italy joined Turkey on the plane to Slovenia after claiming their matchup with hosts Serbia at the end of a performance which their coach described as ‘magic’. The Italian efficiency in defence was key to their success. Serbia performed pretty well, claimed the third set and posed a threat to Italy also in the fourth, but Luca Cristofani’s time-out paid dividends as the young ‘Azzurrine’ came back to the court showing a big desire to win this match. The score was levelled at 24-all before Elena Pietrini scored and finished it all off with a block.
Giulia Melli, with 17 points, was among the top scorers for Italy: “We are only 15 and 17 years old. I am 18 and I am the oldest member of the team. When we say we are very excited about this result and achievement, everybody will understand us.”
Italy coach Luca Cristofani was thrilled: “We did grow a lot during this tournament. Towards the end of this match we started feeling tired and as a result we made some mistakes. However, we managed to react and respond in a good way like the best teams do.”
Serbia coach Marijana Boričić tested her junior team on Sunday: “If we hadn’t been side-lined by many injuries, I am sure we would have qualified for the World Championship, but as I said already this is the best result we could achieve under the current circumstances. Tonight, I gave an opportunity to my younger players to perform. I saw some good things and others we should work on and improve. It is still early to predict what will happen at U19 European Championship in late August.”
Alice Pamio couldn’t play because of an injury, but she supported her team from the side-line: “We are a little bit younger than the other teams competing here, so I didn’t expect any such result and I am really proud. I am sad because I didn’t have the opportunity to play, but I am really happy that my team won this match. I hope I will play in Slovenia next year and I am sure I will do my best there.”
Croatia vs. Poland 0-3 (13-25, 18-25, 15-25)
It was an easy ride for Poland in the last match contested this week in Vrnjačka Banja. Their good attacks combined with Croatia’s bad reception determined the eventual winner of this match. Croatia showed some nice actions in the second set, where they found a way to put pressure on the Polish receivers, but the White-and-Reds did not lose composure and leave any room for Croatia to cause a surprise.
Croatia coach Miroslav Aksentijević deserved some nice words to the organisers of the tournament: “We felt like at home. We came here with a very young team and the reality is that it will take us two, minimum three years to achieve the desired results. Maybe our results in Vrnjačka Banja don’t show that, but our team has a lot of potential.”
Croatia captain Ema Strunjak echoed her coach and agreed that her team has a great potential for the future: “We started playing together only two weeks ago, so we didn’t have much time to prepare. At this tournament we got to see where we stand compared to other European teams. Now we have to keep on working hard.”
Poland captain Julia Twardowska said: “It was a difficult competition for us. Sometimes we played good and sometimes bad, but everything was a lesson for us. We came here to learn from other teams so I am sure we will get better after this tournament.”
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