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23/03/2017 22:55
VakifBank come back from a set down to claim crucial early win
2017 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Women

Zürich, Switzerland, March 23, 2017.  VakifBank ISTANBUL fought their way back after a bad start to eventually prevail 3-1 (15-25, 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.

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.

Volero 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, on the other hand, were with their backs to the wall in the opening set where 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 25-15 was the perfect conclusion.

VakifBank had to step up. 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 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 offence. Volero ZÜRICH were not able to find an answer to VakifBank’s offensive power and consequently, the visitors 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 offence. 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 chances.”

Volero ZÜRICH setter Bojana Zivkovic could not hide her disappointment. “We played a really good opening set, but then all of a 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 too slow in our offence. I think the pressure was possibly a reason why because when you are VakifBank 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 is 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.”

Click here for more info including detailed stats of the match

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