Netherlands break Turkey’s momentum, Italy break into win column in European Women’s Olympic qualifier
Ankara, Turkey, January 6, 2016 – The Netherlands broke the winning momentum of Turkey after the hosts recorded back-to-back victories on the first two days of competition; Germany earned their second victory as they edged Croatia, while Italy threaded the needle to earn their first win over Belgium on the third day of action of the European Olympic Qualification Tournament at Baskent Volleyball Hall on Wednesday.
Netherlands kept their Olympic hopes alive as they beat hosts Turkey 3-0 (25-14, 25-10, 25-21) in Pool A, which gives the former an advantage to earn the semifinal spot when they face winless Croatia on Thursday. The Dutch players dominated the Turkish players in scoring as Lonneke Sloetjes topscored with 12 points, then Anne Buijs and Maret Balkestein-Grotheus contributed nine points each, while Turkey captain Neslihan Darnel-Guler managed to extract nine markers.
The Dutch team stormed into the first two sets with a dominating attack scheme that left the Turkish defenders guessing that resulted to 25-14 and 25-10 set-victories. The Dutch also showed resilience on defence as libero Debby Stam-Pilon guarded their floor from the Turkish spikes. Turkey showed more focus on the third set but coach Giovanni Guidetti’s Netherlands side still seized set and match 25-21.
In the other Pool A match, Margareta Kozuch fired 19 points in Germany’s commanding 3-0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-17) win over Croatia. Kozuch had 17 attacks, one block and an ace that helped Germany in their second victory in the competition.
Maren Brinker led Germany’s surge in the first set with good serves to build their lead. Heike Beier and captain Kozuch followed it up with a stronger finish of 25-16 in the first set. Germany applied pressure on the Croatian defence with heavy service swings to gain a 7-1 advantage, which they maintained to gain the second set win 25-14. Croatia played better in the third set with Mia Jerkov hammering down kills to have the advantage, but Germany levelled the score at 11-all and used their service game again to secure the match 25-17.
In Pool B, Italy had to go through tie-break to earn their first victory in the Olympic qualifier with a narrow 3-2 (16-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-17, 17-15) win over Belgium. Belgium’s Lise Van Heck topped all scorers with 23 points but Paola Egonu’s 21 points and Valentina Diouf’s 20 points proved valuable in the end game for the Italian squad.
Belgium started with a 25-16 win in the first set, but Italy equalised with a 25-23 win in the second frame. Egonu put pressure on the Belgian defence but Van Hecke and Laura Heyrman strengthened their net defence to get back in the match with a 25-22 third set victory. Italy raced to win the fourth set 25-17 and stay in contention for the fifth set. Egonu delivered the victory for Italy with an ace in the extended final set 17-15.