Ankara, Turkey, August 18, 2015 – In front of 5’000 excited fans, Turkey booked the second final ticket of the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U23 World Championship by defeating Japan in four breath-taking sets (25-20, 25-12, 24-26, 25-22) in Tuesday’s second semifinal in Ankara. Except from the second set, it was a thrilling duel with both teams displaying an amazing volleyball show.
Turkey’s Kubra Akman and Japan’s Arisa Inoue contributed 21 points each for their teams. Turkey made the difference with 19 to 5 blocks.
Nine to three block winners were the main reason why hosts Turkey experienced no major difficulties to win the opening set of the much-awaited semifinal clash. With nine points (including five block kills), Kubra Akman led the Europeans to a well-deserved 25-20 win. Both teams played extremely focused, committing almost no mistakes in the early stages of the match.
The Asian side did their best to bounce back in the second set but couldn’t cope with the power the hosts displayed. At the first technical timeout, Turkey already led by five points. Japan’s super star Arisa Inoue found some room between two Turkish blockers but the red-and-blacks immediately answered with a series of inspiring winners to move the scoreboard forward. Hande Baladin finished the second set with a fine combination from the right side (25-12). Baladin was the leading force for the Turks in the second set with eight points.
The Asian side found their rhythm in the early stages of the third period. However, it were still the hosts who kept momentum with a one-point advantage at the first technical break. At 9-12, Japan coach Kiyoshi Abo called his ladies off court to have a serious talk. It apparently helped as the Asians rapidly bounced back to equalize at 12-12. Both teams then exchanged the lead until 21-21 before Japan opened the gap to two points at 23-21. Yuka Kitsui eventually ended the set in Japan’s favour at 26-24.
Japan kept the upper hand in the beginning of the fourth set. The team from the land of the rising sun quickly led 12-6 before Turkey battled back to reduce the deficite to two points at the second technical timeout. Supported by their outstanding fans, Turkey regained momentum and never looked back until 25-22.