Turkey had a fine start to their second Olympic campaign with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-14) triumph over reigning Olympic champions China at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 at Ariake Arena on Sunday.

“Starting off the competition against an Olympic champion is not an easy task, but this became our motivation to do everything we could,” Meliha Ismailoglu said.

“I am proud of my team and that we succeeded with our plan to push from the beginning until the end. We tried to use their weak spots and played great defence, which made them struggle.”

Turkey showcased a stellar scoring arsenal to spark their offence, headed by the 21-year-old Ebrar Karakurt who had an 18-point haul. The energetic opposite teamed up with middle blockers Eda Erdem Dundar and Zehra Gunes and outside hitter Hande Baladin, who contributed 13, 11 and 10 points, respectively.

“Karakurt is amazing and I am so proud of her. She is young and so confident in everything she does,” Ismailoglu added.

The Turkish women started the match with a more organised offence than their Chinese counterparts, with Karakurt and Baladin benefitting from the excellent sets of Cansu Ozbay.

Turkey had an 8-0 start in the second set as their wing spikers and middles fired on all cylinders, while China struggled on a string of errors. The towering Chinese hitters were marked well by the Turkish blockers.

The European squad controlled the game by running the same tempo on offence and defence. With a huge 23-14 lead, Turkey secured set and match from two consecutive errors by their rivals.

“Before we entered the court, we talked about putting pressure on our opponents with our serve, attack and our defence. I think we played well in all aspects in this match,” Erdem remarked.


The other Rio 2016 podium finishers Serbia and the United States had a different result on the opening day as the two squads clinched their respective matches in straight sets.

Reigning world champions Serbia defeated the Dominican Republic in straight sets (25-18, 25-12, 25-20).

Tijana Boskovic and Milena Rasic were in their usual element. Boskovic had a high-scoring start in the competition as she tallied 24 attacks, three blocks and an ace, while teammate Milena Rasic scored six of her 10 points from stuff blocks.

Team USA, who have won all three editions of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League, started their Olympic campaign with a straight-set (25-20, 25-19, 25-20) victory over Argentina.

The North American side finished on the podium at each of the past three editions of the Olympics and has won the most medals in women’s volleyball - three silver medals and two bronze medals, but without gold.

Olympic Games debutante Jordan Thompson scored 20 points as she led USA’s offence with Michelle Bartsch-Hackley had 13 points and Jordan Larson 10 points. Argentina’s Erika Mercado logged 14 points.

“Being in the Olympics is amazing. It’s a dream come true. I am so grateful to be able to do it with this group of women who make the experience more special,” Thompson said.

“For this match, we kept out service pressure really high and got Argentina out of system as much possible and to make it easier for our blockers. We also played good defence behind our block. Jordyn Poulter set us up really well and when we execute like that, good things are going to happen.”

In the match between European teams ROC and Italy, a tight first set was played as the hitters on both sides fought to exert their authority on the attack. Caterina Bosetti’s attack and ROC’s service mistakes gave Italy the first set win.

The second set began with a similar pace with several deadlocks and lead changes. However, the ROC athletes ran out of ways to stop Italian superstar Paola Egonu who racked up more points to her opening set haul. By the third set, the tall opposite was unstoppable and concluded the match with 18 points in Italy’s 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-14) triumph.


Italy picked up the runners-up plaque at the 2018 FIVB World Championship in Japan but have yet to claim their first Olympic medal.

The last two fixtures on opening day ended in straight sets. Japan beat Kenya 3-0 (25-15, 25-11, 25-23), Brazil defeated Korea 3-0 (25-10, 25-22, 25-19).

Kenya began with a lot of intensity against the home team and gained an early advantage in the opening set. The Asian powerhouse eventually found their rhythm as Aki Momii directed the plays that allowed Ai Kurogo, Mayu Ishikawa and Sarina Koga to break through the Kenyan block.


Japan had a stronger showing in the second set but struggled in the third as the Kenyan players were more aggressive on attack and defence.

Japan held a 10-8 lead, when Koga had a bad landing after a block attempt on Mercy Moim’s spike. The outside hitter’s replacement allowed Kenya to spark a run, while Japan struggled to regain their composure after the previous play. Kenya pushed hard to force a deadlock at 23-all, but their two errors allowed Japan to complete the sweep.

Fe Garay (16)

Fe Garay commanded the Brazilian offence in their opening set win against Korea with a nine-point scoring spree, then the scoring involvement of Carol Gattaz, Tandara Caixeta and Gabi Guimaraes posed more problems for the Koreas in the second set.

Korea recovered and showed a better performance in the third set, as Kim Yeon Koung finally received more help from her teammates. At the tied score of 14-all, Brazil managed to put some distance on the lead to record their first win.

Fe Garay and Gabi scored 17 and 16 markers, respectively, while Kim Yeon Koung made 12 points in the losing effort.

On Tuesday, ROC will play again in the first match and will face Argentina at 09.00. The day’s most-anticipated matchup will feature Rio 2016 champions China taking on three-time VNL winners the United States at 11.05.

Home squad Japan will play Rio 2016 runners-up Serbia at 14.20, followed by the European derby between Italy and Turkey at 16.45. Brazil will meet the Dominican Republic at 19.40, before Korea play another last match against Kenya at 21.45.