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18/03/2021 15:20
‘Pass the Pod’ with two of VakifBank superstar players
Pass the Pod

Luxembourg, March 18, 2021. Only a few days before their home matchup with Unet e-work BUSTO ARSIZIO in the semis of the CEV Champions League Volley, we could catch up with two of the superstar players of VakifBank ISTANBUL – Isabelle Haak and Gabi Guimaraes – in the latest episode of our ‘Pass the Pod’ series.

VakifBank’s top scorer Haak shared her excitement about the upcoming matches – especially since this time the Swedish opposite would finally be able to contest the late stages of the CEV Champions League after the outbreak of the pandemic caused an abrupt end to last year’s campaign.

Her Brazilian teammate, Gabi, agreed she was expecting two tough matches with the Italians, especially after BUSTO ARSIZIO delivered two above-par performances in their quarterfinal games with another elite Turkish team, Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL.

On Wednesday, VakifBank could not capitalise on the home court advantage as their opponents came back from two sets down to pull out a rather surprising 3-2 victory.

During our chat, Isabelle and Gabi did also elaborate in what it means to play for a leading club such as VakifBank. “It is like a real family,” Haak said. “I received a very warm welcome when I first joined VakifBank almost two years ago and there has been a great atmosphere ever since. The management of the club provides us with everything we need to be able to perform at the highest level.”


Gabi echoed the same feelings, emphasising that it is the dream of any player to compete for VakifBank. She knew VakifBank very well even before moving to Istanbul, since she had crossed paths with the Turkish team at multiple editions of the FIVB Club World Championship. “It is a privilege to be able to work with so many great players and an amazing coach as Giovanni Guidetti,” she said. “I am trying to use this opportunity to improve as a player and develop as a person as well.”

Just like for any other club, this has been a ‘strange’ season for VakifBank as well, with less international travels, no audience at their home matches and other restrictions caused by the pandemic. “We just have had to adjust and adapt like everybody else,” Haak admits. “The absence of the audience makes it even more important that we develop the right chemistry and atmosphere inside the team so that we can spread good vibes among ourselves. Despite this, we obviously hope for the return of normalcy and to be able to play before our fans next season.”

Playing for VakifBank is an honour and a privilege, but it does not go without pressure. The club always aims high: “We have a very good team and we have now been working together for two years. I do not feel too much pressure even though the aim is always to win. I actually would like to take advantage of this opportunity to win as much as I can. Obviously, winning the Turkish Cup earlier this year is not enough for us and we definitely want to be at the Champions League Super Finals in Verona,” Gabi concludes.

Next week we will know whether she will be able to fulfil this goal – VakifBank will need a victory by any score to achieve this feat and should they win 3-2 in Italy a Golden Set will determine the eventual finalist. Meanwhile, Haak chose six-time winners Zenit KAZAN for the next episode of our ‘Pass the Pod’ series…



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