Italy (ITA) vs. Türkiye (TUR) women - Pool 1 - Preliminary Phase #15656060

Fantastic ambience in Antalya for Türkiye’s match against Italy

Italy stunned the world’s number one team and defending Volleyball Nations League champions Türkiye at their home in Antalya on Saturday with a four-set victory that brought them a precious 10.65 points, lifted them to number four in the FIVB World Ranking and solidified their candidacy for an Olympic ticket to Paris 2024. Earlier on Saturday, the Netherlands suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Poland in Antalya that pushed them down below Canada in the chart and below the qualification cut-off in the ranking.

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After wasting five set points and losing the first set dramatically, Italy pushed on to celebrate a 3-1 (25-27, 25-21, 25-21, 25-19) upset of the home team and disappoint the 11 thousand Turkish fans on the stands. The Italians were spearheaded by opposite Ekaterina Antropova, who piled up 23 points towards the victory, acing as many as five times in the process. Outside hitters Alice Degradi and Caterina Bosetti added 16 and 11 points, respectively, while middle blocker and captain Anna Danesi raised five kill blocks to finish with 10 points. On Türkiye side, opposite Melissa Vargas hammered out an impressive match high of 33 points.

The first set was about a huge scoring race between Vargas and Antropova. After 21-20 Italy’s way, Antropova followed up on a successful spike with two back-to-back aces to give her team a quadruple set point. Inspired by the fantastic support from the home crowd, Türkiye fought back, as playmaker Cansu Ozbay crowned their four-point run with an ace to level the score at 24-24. Another Italian set point was denied before a monster block by Hande Baladin and a successful swing by Vargas put an end to it all at 27-25 Türkiye’s way. It was Italy’s serving that made the difference in the second set. They fired four aces, two by Bosetti and one each by Antropova and setter Carlotta Cambi, against none for the home team, and that accounted exactly for the gap in the final score of 25-21. Vargas hammered another eight points for Türkiye in the set, but this time it was Antropova, who hammered the set winner.

The serving continued to bring Italy what Türkiye were lacking in set three as well. Antropova fired two aces. Anna Danesi also scored from the serving line to help tilt the balance Italy’s way for another 25-21, shaped up by Danesi with an overpass kill for the set winner. In set four, Italy completely dominated on the court, led by Alice Degradi in attack. In the end, it was Antropova again, who delivered the 25-19 set and match winner with an off-the-block spike.

It was Italy’s third win in four matches played, while Türkiye dropped to a 1-2 win-loss record.

“I want to congratulate Italy for digging and serving so well today. They managed to break our side-out. We did well in block-and-defence, but we need to work more on killing the ball. They were better than us and deserved the victory,” Türkiye’s middle blocker Asli Kalac commented after the match. “I just want to thank our supporters. It was a great atmosphere tonight. The VNL is a long tournament and this is just the beginning. We will go to the Finals – I believe in our team!”

“For us it was very important to take the points towards the Olympics, so this was our mental motivation,” Italy’s Carlotta Cambi said. “We knew we were up against a strong team for a tough match, so we just went to the court to fight for every ball and this is the result. It’s so fantastic! ”

Türkiye are set to finish their home campaign in Antalya with a game against France on Sunday at 20:00 local time (17:00 UTC), while Italy are done with the first competition week and will also play against France next, but on May 29 in Macao, China at 16:00 local time (08:00 UTC).

Italy (ITA) vs. Türkiye (TUR) women - Pool 1 - Preliminary Phase #15656084

Ekaterina Antropova on the serve

In their previous match on Friday, Italy managed a 3-0 (25-11, 25-22, 25-19) shutout of Bulgaria, with Antropova contributing a match-high 18 points, including two aces. Middle Sara Bonifacio impressed with six kill blocks towards a 13-point tally, while Iva Dudova led Bulgaria with 14 points. That win brought Italy 2.2 World Ranking points.

Poland yet to lose a set

Earlier on Friday, Poland produced a 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-17) sweep of their encounter with France, with middle blocker Agnieszka Korneluk the top scorer with 15 points, including six kill blocks and four aces. Opposite Monika Galkowska added 14 points (five blocks, one ace). Outside Martyna Lukasik and France’s best scorer Amelie Rotar put away 10 points each. Poland are now on top of the current standings on a 3-0 win-loss record and 9-0 in sets.

Netherlands drop below red line for Paris!

Poland followed up on Friday’s win with another straight-setter on Saturday, this time shutting out the Netherlands by 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-18). That result cost the Dutch 7.12 of their World Ranking points and they dropped below the qualifying line for Paris, yielding to Canada, who are now 4.73 points above the Netherlands in the chart. While Anne Buijs was the best scorer of the match with 18 points, Poland were led by Magdalena Stysiak and Lukasik with 16 points apiece. Natalia Medrzyk added another 12, while Korneluk once again shined in blocking with five stuffs towards an 11-point tally. Netherlands’ Marrit Jasper also reached the double digits with 12 points.

France achieve historic first VNL win, Bulgaria take their first set of the tournament

In another Pool 1 match on Sunday, France celebrated their first-ever victory in the VNL. They managed a 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-11, 29-27) win over Bulgaria. The southern Europeans, on the other hand, won their first set this season. Their opposite Dudova topped the scorers’ chart of the match with 23 points. Her teammate Maria Yordanova finished with 18. Lucille Gicquel led the winners with 20 points, followed by middle Leandra Olinga-Andela with 18 (including nine kill blocks!), Rotar with 15 and Maeva Schalk with 12.

Sunday’s VNL Pool 2 competition day over in Rio de Janeiro has already started with a game between Serbia and China. Next up are Korea and the Dominican Republic at 17:30 local time (20:30 UTC), and Thailand and Canada at 21:00 (00:00).

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