ANKARA, Turkey, 27 September - Turkey and Poland will contest Sunday's of the Women's European Championships after beating Netherlands (3-0), and Germany (3-2) in the semifinals of this tournament that also rewards the top two teams with places to the World Cup in Japan, the first Olympic Qualifier.
It was a fantastic result for the host country who have coasted through the championship and thrilled 6000 fans in the Ataturk Arena in the Turkish capital to defeat the Dutch team 25-17, 25-22, 25-22.
Turkey had firm control of the match from the outset and fended off an array of spikes by top Dutch players Elles Leferink (14 points) and Francien Huurman (13 points). Netherlands got briefly into the match at the end of the second set, but was never able to close the gap.
Neslihan Demir (16 points) and the Russian born Natalia Hanikoglu (14 points) were the best players on the Turkish side. The home team was also helped 27 unforced errors on the Dutch side, while they themselves only gave away 12 points.
Turkey now meets Poland who dismissed Germany in the first semifinal after an exciting five set tiebreaker. Both teams were surprise semifinalists, having not made a podium place at this championship in the past decade.
Poland started the match strongly, but Germany took over the momentum in the middle of the second set. Germany was leading 2-1 and when they took an 18-13 lead in the fourth set, it looked like the match was over. But Poland made a tremendous comeback to level the scores and force the tiebreaker, which they then won 15-9.
"We came here to win a medal and now we are sure of winning the silver," the Polish head coach Andrej Niemczyk said. "Another goal was for us to qualify for the World Cup. Now we are in the final, we also achieved this. So now that the goals are reached, we can play the final without any pressure."
Niemczyk said Germany had got back into the game when Polish spiker Malgorzata Glinka had made too many errors at the end of the third set. But Glinka didn't let her team down in all the decisive moments and with 40 points, she was by far the best scorer. Germany's captain Angelina Grün added 16 points to top score for Germany.
Russia and Italy, the finalists of two years ago, clash on Sunday in the classification match for the fifth position.
In Saturday's action, unseated European Champion Russia just defeated Bulgaria 3-2 and World Champion Italy won the battle with Romania 3-1.
The first six ranked teams are qualified for the European Olympic Qualification tournament, which will be held in Baku (AZE) from 5 till 10 January 2004. Turkey, Germany, Poland and Netherlands are, as semifinalists, also automatically qualified for the 2005 Women's European Championships, which will take place in Croatia.
Ankara - Semifinals.
GER - POL 2-3 (23-25, 25-20, 25-22, 22-25, 9-15)
TUR - NED 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-22)
Classification matches 5-8:
RUS - BUL 3-2 (25-21, 28-30, 25-15, 26-28, 15-11)
ROM - ITA 1-3 (25-21, 15-25, 26-28, 21-25)
Match schedule Sunday 28 September 2003:
Ankara - Final and classification matches.
1130: BUL - ROM (Classification 7-8)
1400: RUS - ITA (Classification 5-6)
1630: GER - NED (Classification 3-4)
1900: POL - TUR (FINAL)