In just over three weeks' time, this year's edition of the women's Club World Champs will take place over five days from December 14 to 18 in Antalya, Türkiye. Reigning world champions VakifBank Spor Kulubu and host team Eczacibasi Dynavit Istanbul of Türkiye will be joined by Brazilian clubs Dentil Praia Clube and Gerdau Minas, Prosecco DOC Imoco Conegliano of Italy and Kuanysh Club of Kazakhstan. For more information, visit the competition website here.
VakifBank to play for record fifth club world title
The reigning champions enter the new season with an impressive line-up highlighted by Paola Egonu
Опубликовано 08:00, 20 Nov 2022
Reigning champions VakifBank Spor Kulubu will be back to defend their title at the Club World Champs 2022 when the tournament takes place in Antalya next month, from December 14 through 18. The Turkish giants will attempt to break their own record of four titles and add a fifth world crown to their glorious showcase.
VakifBank qualified for the upcoming edition of the Club World Champs by winning gold in Europe’s CEV Champions League 2022, just one of five trophies they claimed in an amazing golden quintuple during the 2021-2022 club season. In addition to the Club World Champs and the Champions League, coach Giovanni Guidetti’s squad also triumphed in Türkiye’s national league, cup and Super Cup competitions.
Having already topped the Club World Championship podium in 2013, 2017 and 2018, they took their record-breaking fourth title at the 2021 edition held last December in Ankara - their podium count in the competition also includes a silver and two bronze medals. VakifBank reached last year’s final without losing a single set in the pool stage and the semifinals, but in the championship match itself they edged defending champs Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley of Italy after a five-set battle, which included a solid 35-point performance by Imoco’s opposite Paola Egonu.
Some five months later, the two teams met again in the Champions League final. The match lasted only four sets, and although Egonu hammered out 39 points against VakifBank, the Turkish team celebrated another win and a fifth continental crown.
This season, Egonu is wearing the VakifBank jersey, while Swedish star opposite Isabelle Haak has moved in the opposite direction, from VakifBank to Imoco.
Istanbul have already lost one of the five trophies they were aiming to defend this season. Egonu led the scorers’ chart in the Turkish Super Cup match with 22 points, but her new team lost to city rivals Fenerbahce Opet Istanbul in straight sets.
In Türkiye’s Misli.com Sultanlar Ligi, on the other hand, VakifBank have made a good start, winning their first four matches - 3-1 at Bolu Belediye Spor, 3-0 at home against SigortaShop Ankara, 3-0 at Ilbank Ankara and 3-1 at home against Fenerbahce Opet Istanbul, before suffering their first defeat on Wednesday, a straight-set loss at Eczacibasi Dynavit Istanbul, the other Turkish participant in the upcoming Club World Championship. Currently on a 4-1 win-loss record, VakifBank will continue the quest for their 14th national championship title.
VakifBank, whose impressive honours list also includes eight national cups, four national Super Cups and two more continental trophies, the 2004 CEV Top Teams Cup and the 2008 CEV Challenge Cup, are arguably the world’s most decorated women’s club in the 21st century.
Italian wonder woman Paola Egonu is not the only new addition of note to Guidetti’s roster this season. Another high-scoring player, Dutch international Nika Daalderop transferred from Italian powerhouse Igor Gorgonzola Novara, while US national team member Kara Bajema came in from Poland’s DevelopRes Bella Dolina Rzeszow. They joined VakifBank’s new team captain Gabriela Guimaraes of Brazil and Turkish rising star Derya Cebecioglu on the list of the team’s outside hitters.
Talented Romanian-born teenager Alexia Carutasu will act as Egonu's backup and VakifBank’s second opposite. She returned to the club after spending the previous three seasons competing for other Turkish teams.
An already solid line-up of middle blockers including American standout Chiaka Ogbogu and Turkish internationals Zehra Gunes and Kubra Akman was strengthened by new domestic addition Bahar Akbay.
There has been no change in Guidetti’s selection of setters, which includes Cansu Ozbay and Buket Gulubay. The liberos are Ayca Aykac and Aylin Acar.
As one of the two Turkish clubs participating in the competition, VakifBank will certainly enjoy support in the Mediterranean city of Antalya. They will open their Pool B campaign with a match against Asian club champions Kuanysh Club of Kazakhstan on December 14 at 19:30 local time (16:30 UTC). On the following day, at 20:00 (17:00), VakifBank will meet South American club champions Gerdau Minas of Brazil.