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Turkey one step closer to European League crown

Turkey celebrate their home victory in the first of two final matches in the last stage of the 2014 CEV Volleyball European League
Bursa, Turkey, July 17, 2014 - Turkey are only one step away from claiming their first title in the CEV Volleyball European League - Women following Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Germany (25-15, 25-23, 16-25, 25-21) in the first leg of the final.

On Saturday, July 19, Germany will have to score a 3-0 or 3-1 home victory in Rüsselsheim to have a chance of retaining the crown they won last year in Varna. The eventual winners of this year’s European League will be guaranteed a spot in the 2015 edition of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix.

The home side prevailed from the start of the first set, taking an early 5-1 lead. Spikes hit by Yeliz Basa and Kübra Akman paved the way for 8-3 and 16-11 leads Turkey’s way at the first and second technical timeouts. Germany could not find a way through the Turkish block and the first set ended in a landslide win (25-15) for the home heroines.

Germany regrouped and improved their performance in defence to stay competitive for most of the second set. Turkey nevertheless got a two-point lead before the first technical timeout. Their opponents then fought their way back to claim the narrowest margin at the second mandatory stop. It was a very close fight all the way to the end of the set which could have gone either way, but in the end Turkey emerged victorious to claim a 2-0 lead (25-23).

Turkey’s machine got stuck in the early stages of the third set; Germany reduced their mistakes and were up 8-4 at the first technical timeout. Turkey then cut their deficit to only one point halfway through (11-12), but after that Germany scored another four consecutive points to widen their lead (11-16). Jennifer Geerties was the most prolific player for the visiting team at this stage and the guests were able to hold on to their lead eventually taking the set 25-16.

The fourth set, on the other hand, was very close. Even though Germany set the tempo at the first technical timeout leading by 8-6, Turkey got back on track and made it 16-14 in their favour with a spike by Cansu Cetin. Good serving by Yeliz Basa helped the home side control the game and the party got started in Bursa as Turkey won the set by 25-21 and the match (3-1).

Basa was the top scorer with 17 points as Geerties and Lisa Izquierdo recorded 13 each for Germany.

“The team playing the second match at home has a big advantage as they get the right to play the eventual golden set before their fans, but today we gained a psychological advantage going into the second round,” Turkey’s head coach Ferhat Akbas said. “The second match will be very tough. Our opponents have got a strong sporting culture and they never give up. Today we lost focus from time to time but it is important that we made a comeback in the fourth set. Congratulations to my players. I am confident that we will be the champions in the end.”

Turkey’s libero Hatice Gizem Örge added: “Germany is a very good team and we knew it would be a hard game. However, our desire to win and good tactics made sure we beat them today. We are happy to go to Germany with this advantage. We are a young and dynamic team and most of us are playing our first final.”

“Turkey played very well and made fewer mistakes than us,” commented Germany’s head coach Giovanni Guidetti. “This is not the right way to play volleyball. However, it is still fine because all my spikers on the court today are only 19 years old. That is also why we are playing in the European League, because it is an opportunity to learn and grow. However, you can’t be successful with all the mistakes we made today. I hope we will be playing better in the second game. I did not like the way we played today and I do not like it at all when we give away a match because of our mistakes.”

“Congratulations to Turkey,” said Germany’s setter Mareen Apitz. “They played really well like we expected them to. The problem is that we did not find our game. It was not the way we wanted to play. We want to do better in Germany.”

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