Ankara, Turkey, February 15, 2017. Ziraat Bankasi ANKARA are one of the ‘hottest’ candidates to seize the crown of this year’s CEV Volleyball Challenge Cup – Men. They are about to play Draisma Dynamo APELDOORN of the Netherlands in the quarterfinals and once again they will be taking to the court with a number of major Volleyball stars – Marcus Nilsson, Kay van Dijk, Jeroen Rauwerdink and David Lee to name only a few – wearing their shirt. However, team captain and setter Ulas Kiyak is without a doubt the real ‘leader’ of the group.
“We have a great ambiance in the team and there is a real spirit of friendship among us,” Kiyak said. “As we progress from one stage of the competition to the next, we obviously get to play better teams and tougher opponents. This will happen especially if we make it through to the quarterfinals and reach the semis. Our goal is to win the cup and we strongly believe in our chances as a team,” Kiyak continues.
The 35-year-old is the undisputed leader of a team whose roster includes many outstanding players. “I think this is a role I can easily cope with because of my experience since I have had a long career so far. We are working on building a close human relationship among the members of the team, developing a spirit of friendship and a sense of cohesion,” Kiyak acknowledges. “I take my responsibility for that as well; this is not just part of my job, but of my role as the team captain.”
Kiyak has played for all of Turkey’s top clubs – including Galatasaray ISTANBUL and Halkbank ANKARA – throughout his career. “I have been lucky enough to play for such important teams in my career. As any other player, I have had and shared moments of joy and sadness, there have been ups and downs with my clubs and with the national team as well. However, this is where all of my experience comes from.”
Ulas is also the captain of the Turkish national team that later this summer will compete at the much-anticipated EUROVOLLEY POLAND 2017. “We will be travelling to Poland to represent our country among the best teams in Europe and this is a real honour and privilege,” Kiyak said. “Turkey’s national team has reached a high level already and am confident that it will continue to develop in a good way and will be able to leave a mark on the international stage.”
Turkey have been achieving some unprecedented results in age-group competitions and this bodes well for the future of men’s Volleyball in the country. “There are many good young players who are growing and developing their skills with Ziraat Bankasi. We have a number of young, talented players on our team as well. I always try to share my experience with them. I am confident that this young generation will achieve the highest goals they have set,” Ulas said.
Kiyak is 187 cm tall, so he is not a ‘giant’ in Volleyball, even though he plays as a setter. “Size is of course important, but technical skills are the main factor, in my opinion,” Kiyak said. On top of this, he of course can count on many years of experience at the highest level.
Finally, speaking about the game, Ulas has a few inspiring, touching words: “Volleyball is my job, but I should rather say that Volleyball is my life. Whatever I have achieved so far in life, that’s all because of Volleyball.” Enough to inspire the next generation of Turkish players to follow in his footsteps and learn from his experience…