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Ismailoglu downs Poland as Turkey stays unbeaten

Lincoln, United States, May 17, 2018 - Turkey continued its dream start to the Volleyball Nations League as Meliha Ismailoglu stepped up to sink Poland in straight sets 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-23) and gave her team its third straight win.

Ismailoglu took over the bulk of the attacking duties and crushed home 13 total points as Turkey maintained its unbeaten record to complete a superb trip to Nebraska in the opening series of VNL matches. Seyma Ercan was also a key factor in the win, coming up with nine kills and a pair of timely service winners.

A day after clinching a major upset over the United States in a thrilling encounter at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, Giovanni Guidetti’s squad carried its momentum forwards and has now established itself as a genuine threat in the global competition, despite coming in ranked 12th in the world.

In defeat, Malwina Smarzek continued her impressive form and collected 14 total points, but Poland’s young group was unable to control its error count and saw the match slip away from them.

The Turkish line-up, with a fresh mindset and boundless energy, were not expected to dominate this round but made a strong start on the opening day and never looked back, winning the hearts of the Nebraska crowd in the process.

If expectations were low before, that is no longer the case. Within moments of the match being clinched Guidetti collected his players around him, and warned them that the pressure will only increase from this point onwards. On the evidence of this week, they are more than equipped to cope with it.

Poland came out strongly in the opening set with Smarzek a tower of power and Natalia Medrzyk continuing to shine. Having taken the USA close before then edging out Italy in a decider, Jacek Nawrocki’s side had every right to feel confident, but, in what would become a theme of the afternoon, committed too many mistakes when it mattered most.

Ismailoglu and the ever-lively Meryem Boz took charge late in the opener to clinch it by a four-point margin and set Turkey firmly on their way to all three points.

Ercan came into her own after the interval as Poland slipped behind and could not narrow the gap, with Ismailoglu appropriately slamming down the set-winning spike and letting out a yell of delight.

In the third, Poland finally hit top gear as Agnieszka Kakolewska and Smarzek both produced huge blocks and Medrzyk went on a run of serves to open up a 9-5 gap.

Turkey simply chipped away at the deficit though, with Guidetti making smart use of his bench to introduce veteran Kubra Caliskan as a calming influence. So it proved, and when a Caliskan serve hit the net and trickled over the scores were level at 19.

Things were still tied at 22-22 but from then on, Turkey’s power players took over. Ismailoglu blocked Medrzyk to put her team ahead, and after another Polish mistake Ercan rose high to deliver the final block that capped off a magnificent week for the Turks.


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