VakifBank come back from a set down to claim crucial early win

Zürich, Switzerland, March 23, 2017.  VakifBank ISTANBUL fight their way back after a bad start to eventually prevail 3-1 (13-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-21) over multiple time Swiss champions Volero ZÜRICH. This puts the Turkish side in pole position to back up their victory when the 2nd leg returns at their home in a fortnights time.

VakifBank come back from a set down to claim crucial early win

Volero ZÜRICH versus VakifBank ISTANBUL. If there is one matchup in European women’s club Volleyball that needs no introduction, it’s this battle between the team from the shores of Lake Zurich and the team from the Turkish metropole Istanbul.

The team from the shores of Lake Zürich did not disappoint the high expectations of their home crowd. ZÜRICH started strongly with an aggressive serving game as well as a cold-blooded offense, the reigning Swiss champs outclassed the Turkish top team at the very start of the game. VakifBank Istanbul, on the other hand, were with their backs to the wall in the opening set a home lead of 18-9 was testament to that. One of the main reasons for the result was Volero setter Bojana Zivkovic. The Olympic silver medallist had to replace Fabíola since the Brazilian national player suffered a knee injury in a training session before the game. Zivkovic played a huge game and led her team to the win in the first set. Foluke Akinradewo’s ace to 25-13 was the perfect conclusion.

VakifBank had to step up now. But Giovanni Guidetti wouldn’t be Giovanni Guidetti if he didn’t know how to manage such difficult stages. The star coach found the right words to bring his team back on track during the first set interval. The leading power on the court, on the other hand, was without doubt was opposite Lonneke Slöetjes. The Dutch international overpowered the Swiss defence and booked eight points in the second set alone. VakifBank ISTANBUL eventually prevailed 25-20 and were back in the game.

In the third set, the two teams spoiled the 2,300 spectators in the stands with Volleyball at its finest. Big saves, incredible blocks, and thrilling spikes; this set had a little bit of everything. But it was once again Lonneke Slöetjes and Olympic champ Zhu Ting who made the difference with their cold-bloodedness in the offense. Volero ZÜRICH was not able to find an answer to VakifBank’s offensive power and consequently, ISTANBUL won the set again, this time 25-17.

Volero ZÜRICH were now under pressure and had to fight their way back into the game if they wanted to avoid to start with a handicap in the away game. But Lonneke Slöetjes and VakifBank just proved too strong in the offense. Therefore, the team from the Turkish metropole eventually prevailed 25-21 in the fourth set to claim the crucial away win.

Volero ZÜRICH coach Zoran Terzic. “In the first set, we played with a free head. We had a strong serve and attack. Unfortunately, we then started to be afraid of our own mistakes. It is impossible to win over VakifBank ISTANBUL like this; because VakifBank is one of the best - if not the best – team in the world. Nonetheless, I told my players that it takes two good games to win such a series. Now we have to start as well into the game in Istanbul, like we did today, then everything is possible. I believe in my team and in our chance.”

Volero ZÜRICH setter Bojana Zivkovic could not hide her disappointment. “We played a really good opening set, but then all the sudden it looked like we stopped playing. Nevertheless, I am very confident for the away match.”

VakifBank ISTANBUL coach Giovanni Guidetti did not want to overestimate this win saying. “Volero started really strong into this game. I would not say we played bad, but we were just to slow in our offense. I think the pressure was possibly a reason why because when you are VakifBank Istanbul you have to win every game. Nevertheless, we stayed calm as a team and fought our way back into the game. But honestly, this win does not enough. It’s like leading 2:0 in a game. It’s a first step, but we have to win the game in Istanbul too.”

VakifBank ISTANBUL setter Naz Aydemir Akyol “I think it’s normal to struggle a little bit in the first set when you play abroad in another gym. But we did a great job afterwards. We committed too many errors and could not take advantage of our service in the opening set. It is always better to face a team you know. And it’s like Volero ZÜRICH played in the Turkish league because we are going to face them now for the sixth time in two years.”

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    The ‘Match of the Week’ featuring titleholders VakıfBank ISTANBUL and Russia’s Dinamo MOSCOW will draw much of the attention – especially since the Muscovites need a positive result in order to remain in contention for a spot in the Playoffs.  

    VakifBank ISTANBUL (TUR) vs. Dinamo MOSCOW (RUS)

      • VakifBank ISTANBUL claimed four titles in 2017, i.e. the CEV Volleyball Champions League, the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship, Turkey’s Supercup and national cup.
     • VakifBank ISTANBUL were the first Turkish team to win Europe’s elite club competition – in 2011 – and the only one to have three titles to their name – 2011, 2013 and 2017.
     • VakifBank have not lost a Champions League home match since December 11, 2014 when they lost 1-3 to France’s RC CANNES.
     • It is the last home match in Pool D for VakifBank where they have three wins in as many matches so far.

     VakifBank team captain Gözde Kirdar: “Dinamo MOSCOW is an incredibly strong team, especially in attack. They recently transferred a player to strengthen their roster. It will be a very important match for us, because we want to secure first place in Pool D. We are working very hard for this match and I hope our supporters will not leave us alone.”

     VakifBank middle blocker Milena Rasic: “Dinamo MOSCOW is a very good team. I am sure they will come here to give everything they can. We know how important this game is for us and for them as well. We have to be ready for this match.”

    VakifBank ISTANBUL head coach Giovanni Guidetti: “For sure this will be a very different match from the one that we had in Moscow. This match will be Dinamo MOSCOW’s last chance to stay in contention for a spot in the Playoffs. They have a new and very good player in attack. It will be a very difficult match for us. We have to play very carefully.”

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    VakıfBank ISTANBUL continued their fine form in the competition winning away in Russia meaning that they are undefeated since the final in 2016 - a run of 15 matches.

    Dinamo MOSCOW (RUS) vs VakifBank ISTANBUL (TUR) 0-3 (20-25, 22-25, 18-25)

    • Vakifbank started the game very confidently and although the score was level in the early exchanges the home team trailed at the technical breaks.
    • The home side were clearly directed to place more risk on the serve by coach Zoran Terzic.
    • Zhu Ting (top scorer with 16 points) and Kübra Akman Caliskan were very effective and directed their team to a 25-20 first set win.
    • In the second set Dinamo MOSCOW looked closer and had a slight advantage at the second technical time-out causing some tension for VakifBank. However, the travelling side showed their true qualities with Gözde Kirdar very accurate and aggressive - highlighted by it being her ace that ended the set 25-22.
    • The third set offered the last chance for Dinamo, however a number of unforced errors lead to a seven point deficit at the second technical (9-16). From here Turkish setter Naz Aydemir Akyol orchestrated things and the reigning champions took another victory (25-18 in the final set).

     Milena Rasic: We had a great match today. We won in front of a powerful team. We are also happy to have won 3-0. We want to keep winning series.

    Giovanni Guidetti: I am very happy for winning. Because it's an important game. We were very good especially in the blocks. We made exactly 16 blocks today. We played aggressive, focused and careful. Now we are the leader in the group. But every match is like a final for us. We have many challenging matches to play in the future.

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    VakifBank ISTANBUL (TUR) vs. Grot Budowlani LODZ (POL) 3-1 (25-16, 24-26, 25-15, 25-16)

    • Zhu Ting top scored in the match with 21 points for VakifBank.
     • Milena Rasic recorded as many as eight blocks for the home side out of 18 for VakifBank.
     • VakifBank claimed a 10-point lead in the third set at 23-13, the highest point difference in the match.

     Milena Rasic, player of VakifBank: “We played a very good match but I think we could have won 3-0. Unfortunately, we lost focus and let them play their own game in the second set. They played very well but after we found our rhythm again, we were able to take three points from this match.”

     Giovanni Guidetti, coach of VakifBank: “The best thing out of this match is that we took three points. We played this match after some intensive training and I know that my team is a little bit tired. However, I do not like it, when my team does not play well in defence. That is the reason why we failed in the second set but in the end we are happy with the three points we have taken from this match.”

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    VakifBank claim Istanbul derby after four closely-fought sets

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    VakifBank claim Istanbul derby after four closely-fought sets

    Luxembourg, December 14, 2017. VakifBank ISTANBUL claimed the eagerly anticipated derby with Galatasaray SK ISTANBUL (3-1; 25-22, 25-18, 23-25, 26-24) to start their journey in the pool stage of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Women in emphatic style. VakifBank are chasing their fourth title in Europe’s elite club competition, but first have to progress to the Playoffs 6 before setting their sights on another continental crown.

    • The Chinese star player of VakifBank, Zhu Ting, top scored with 25 points.
    • Milena Rasic and Sinead Jack killed five blocks apiece for VakifBank and Galatasaray, respectively.
    • VakifBank scored as many as 13 blocks.
    • VakifBank looked incredibly dominant in the second set, where they had an edge of 10 points (18-8) over their rivals.
    • Galatasaray played their first Champions League match since the 2013 Final Four – which they hosted in Istanbul and where they had to settle for fourth place. Back then, VakifBank had won their second title in the competition.

    Kelsey Robinson, player of VakifBank:
    “The first match in the group stage of the CEV Champions League is always tough. Therefore, the Galatasaray match was also tough. In the first set, our opponent played very good, especially in attack. However, I think that we responded very well to their challenge. In the third set, I think we relaxed a little bit but in the final set, we fought for every point and we eventually won.”

     Giovanni Guidetti, head coach of VakifBank: “You cannot expect an easy victory from this kind of matches. Our opponent Galatasaray is a very strong team. We should have won 3-0 and I am a little bit upset because of the third set. We gave away as many as 15 points to Galatasaray. In the final set, on the other hand, we fought for every point. We won this game because we deserved it. Details are always important to me.”

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    VakıfBank Istanbul 3-0 Minchanka Minsk

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    VakıfBank Istanbul 3-0 Minchanka Minsk
    Sets: 25-21, 25-16,25-16
    Duration: 1h 15min

    First 6 of VakifBank: Gözde Kırdar, Zhu Ting, Kübra Çalışkan, Naz Aydemir, Milena Rasic, Lonneke Sloetjes- Gizem Örge.
    First 6 of M. Minsk: Nadzeya Stoliar, Volha Palcheuskaya, Katsiaryna Sakolchyk, Aksana Kavalchuk, Nadzeya Smirnova, Anzelika Barysevich – Hanna Hryshkevich
    Top Scorer: Lonneke Sloetjes (14 pt.)
    Top Blocker: Zhu Ting (3)
    Top Block Points: Minchanka Minsk (9pt.)
    Top score difference: 10 pt. (3rd Set –VakıfBank-Minchanka Minsk: 23-13) 
    VakıfBank Team Captain Gözde Kırdar: It was not easy in Minsk, so we worked really hard after this match. Guidetti expected a better game today, so I am very happy we maket his happen. It’s all about confidence and teamwork. We will play better and better, after we get used to eachother with new players. I congratulate M. Minsk they really give effort and forced us. I think in group stage we will perform better quality and better volleyball. We sure want to win Champions League title again and we are focused as we focus every year to this goal. I feel very lucky to play in a volleyball temple like this.  

    Headcoach of VakıfBank Giovanni Guidetti:
    Our squad is stronger than M. Minsk. But Minsk performed great volleyball in this two games. I want to congratulate them. I am happy because of the result. But I am also aware that we need to play better volleyball. I trust my team so we will perform better volleyball in next games. I would to thank all our players and our fans.

    Headcoach of M. Minsk Viktar Hancharou: I want to say thanks to my team for their performance on the first and second sets. Also we are glad to play in this gym. VakifBank is the one of the top teams of Europe and World. It was very hard for us to play against such a team like them, because we have only Russian players in our squad. Both games in Minsk and in Istanbul were good experiences for us. The level of the players of VakifBank is much better than us, so they win. I wish good luck to VakifBank to win Champions League again.

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