Vakıfbank women claim volleyball Champions League trophy
BUCHAREST – Anadolu Agency
In the final in Bucharest on the night of May 6, the Turkish powerhouse cruised to an impressive 3-0 (25-17, 25-11, 25-17) victory against host CSM Volei Alba BLAJ to grab the trophy.
Vakıfbank captain Gözde Kırdar was awarded as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament. In a very emotional closing ceremony, she received the high honor on the very day she officially put an end to her glorious volleyball career.
“I feel really amazing, I feel like the happiest person in the world,” said Kırdar.
“Twenty years in Vakıfbank, the 20th trophy of my career, I am incredibly happy. I just want to thank everyone who has helped me,” she said.
Kırdar said the whole day had been very emotional for her.
“When I went on the court for practice today, I realized that was my final practice, my final touch to the wall,” she said.
“I started to cry a bit, but then I said to myself ‘Gözde, you have a final to play, you are the captain, you must leave your feelings aside and focus.’ I am really happy to have ended my career with another trophy,” said Kırdar.
As a heavy pre-favorite against the first Romanian team in history to play in a Champions League final, Vakıfbank made sure it showed immediately who would be calling the shots in the match and stormed into the first set with a 9-1 run.
With noisy support from the packed stands, Alba managed to level the game, but it was already too late to level the score as well. Supported by hundreds of its own supporters, and led by an excellent Zhu Ting, Vakıfbank cruised on to a comfortable 25-17 win, with Zhu acing for the last point.
Coach Giovanni Guidetti’s squad was even more merciless in the second set. With almost perfect organization by the net and Milena Rasic on fire, Vakıfbank left no doubts over its superiority and ran off with a 25-11 win.
Alba made an effort to return into the match at the beginning of the third set. The home side even managed a four-point lead at the first technical time-out, but this was as far as it could go.
Vakıfbank caught up at 9-9, and after 11-11 scored five in row to practically pre-determine the outcome. Lonneke Slöetjes was instrumental for her team’s speedy turnaround and it was her who had the honor of hammering the last ball of the season, closing the set, the match and the tournament at 25-17.
Zhu Ting was the best scorer of the match with 15 points for the winning side. Her teammates Lonneke Slöetjes and Kırdar added 14 and 12, respectively.
In the third place game, Italy’s Imoco Volley crushed Turkey’s Galatasaray in straight sets for a 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-20) victory to secure a spot on the podium.