Turkish women to spike for gold at European Games
CİHAN photoTurkish women’s volleyball team will be out to cap their good run at the European Games in Baku with a gold medal when they play Poland in the tournament final on June 27.
Turkey beat host Azerbaijan 25-21, 23-25, 25-19, 23-25, 15-11 on June 25 in a game played in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans, including Azeri President İlham Aliyev.
“It was a difficult game but we controlled our emotions. It was an amazing atmosphere, very tense, but we played team volleyball and that is why we won,” said Turkey’s Neriman Özsoy, who enjoyed an impressive evening as she scored 26 points for her team.
“But congratulations to Azerbaijan, they played very well and it was a high level game. I think we won in the end because we know each other very well. We wanted to fight for every ball and in the tie-break, our experience made the difference,” Özsoy added.
Turkey will face Poland in the final, hoping to beat the rival to which it lost 3-2 in the first Pool A match on June 13.
“The final will be different,” Özsoy vowed.
“We know they are a very good team, but we are ready to fight with them. If they want to beat us, it will not be easy. We are ready to fight for the gold,” she added.
Poland booked its place in the final with a hard-fought 25-23, 20-25, 25-19, 22-25, 15-12 victory.
“I think in our country everyone is saying that we create horror movies every game because we could only finish in three or four and we just like to play tie breaks,” said Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata, who scored 15 points.
Serbia coach Zoran Terzic described Poland as the “most complete team” in the tournament.
“[The semi-final] was a very difficult game for us, especially after the game against Belgium [in the quarter-finals]. That was also five sets so it was very difficult. I don’t think my team recovered 100 percent,” Terzic added.
The final game will be played at 6:30 p.m. local time (4:30 p.m. Turkish time) on June 27, and the bronze medal match between Azerbaijan and Serbia will be played at 4 p.m. on the same day.
Meanwhile, triple champion Maria Astashkina became the first world record-breaker in the pool at the European Games, breaking the junior 200m breaststroke record on June 25 before helping set another global milestone in the 4x100m medley relay.
The 16-year-old sensation Astashkina clocked 2 minutes 23.06 seconds, taking six-hundredths of a second off the world junior record “target time” set up by FINA last year.
“I wasn’t expecting to beat the record, I was just trying to go faster than I did in the semi-final,” said the girl from Penza.
Four-time European junior champion Astashkina destroyed the field by more than 10 meters, with Giulia Verona of Italy taking silver and 14-year-old Layla Black, the youngest member of the British swim team, claiming bronze.