Montreux, Switzerland, September 9, 2018- Giovanni Guidetti’s Turkey held their nerve to see off Brazil in Sunday’s Bronze Medal encounter to seal their place on the podium, star trio Hande Baladin, Eda Erdem Dundar and Meryem Boz scoring a combined 58 points to secure the medal after a tie-break after surrendering a two-set lead.
This victory will bring relief to Turkey coach Giovanni Guidetti, who can now put behind him the woe of defeat at this stage back in 2016, when his Netherlands side lost out on the Bronze Medal. Brazil will be disappointed not to have clinched a podium finish on their title defence, but can take many positives from the character they showed to fight their way back into a tie that looked long dead, ahead of their upcoming FIVB World Championship campaign.
The opening play set the tone for an enthralling first set, as Danielle Lins served and the two teams exchanged a superb rally, Turkey eventually winning the point from a Thaisa Menezes blockout. The set then became dominated by the block as Hande Baladin and Ercan both pulled out stops alongside a Meryem Boz spike and an ace from Eda Erdem Dundar, as the ‘Sultans of the Net’ raced into a 3-8 lead. The Brazilians duly responded with a succession of blocks from Thaisa and Adenizia da Silva to lessen the deficit, but a clever touch from Baladin, alongside a block point and spike from leading scorer Boz kept Turkey ahead at 14-21. The lively Baladin then stepped up again to kill an epic rally, spiking a low effort that was two strong for Rosamaria Montibeller to repel, before yet another block from Arici and a serving fault from Brazil put Turkey at set-point. They clinched it at the second time of asking as Baladin beat the block to force the ball out with a touch from Gabi Guimaraes, to seize the advantage 0:1.
It was Turkey’s edge in the rally that was clinching them vital points, particularly the golden touch of captain Erdem Dundar proving vital in the second set, as she clinched a great rally and added further points with a cute touch over the net and a great spike down to help her side cruise into an 11-17 lead. Brazil’s lethal attacking force, Wing Spiker Rosamaria, began to cut a frustrated figure as her attempted spike landed out of play and she got an unfortunate touch on a Turkish block that went out of play for 16-22 in favour of the Turks. Gabi Guimaraes’ long serve then handed Turkey a set point opportunity, and they converted at the second attempt to take the set 18-25 and double the lead to 0:2, the referee contentiously ruling that Ercan’s spike that landed out of play took a Brazilian touch on the way through.
Turkey began the third set the stronger looking to press home the advantage, Erdem Dundar and Boz spiking to sandwich a Baladin block, before Cansu Ozbay clinched a great rally for a 6-8 lead. But after Ercan’s smash put the Turks 7-9 ahead, the South Americans discovered a second wind and mounted a remarkable comeback, ignited when Ana Carolina da Silva touched down over the net to kill a nerve-shredding rally. Brazil’s leading performer thus far, Drussyla Costa, came up trumps with a string of spikes before Adenizia da Silva and Danielle Lins put in big blocks to turn the set 16-15 for Brazil. A brilliant looped effort from Turkey’s Libero Akoz briefly pulled the deficit back, but a big double block from Carol and Gabi took back the lead. Carol came up with a big block shortly thereafter, to make the score 23-21, just as Erdem Dundar had levelled the set once more. And although Boz denied Brazil’s first set point effort, the excellent Drussyla rose to smash home for 25-23, keeping Brazil in the game with a 1:2 overall score.
A foothold established, Brazil cruised ahead 7-2 in set three as they sought to tie the match, the dig beginning to come together to repel Turkey’s attack with breathtaking interventions from Libero, Suelen Pinto, and Dani Lins. A big block as Drussyla and Carol rose above the net made the score 15-7, prior to two big spikes from Rosamaris and Drussyla, whilst Adenizia chipped in with another big block point. When Dani Lins cleverly touched over for 22-14, Brazil had the cushion they needed to see out the set as they crept towards taking the set to equalise. They made a hash of set point as Turkey threatened to sneak back in, 24-20, but Rosamaria killed any hopes of a comeback with an almighty smash to propel the Battle for Bronze to a tie-break, the set ending 25-20 (2:2).
The deciding set was neck-and-neck, although Erdem Dundar put Turkey ahead for the first time in the decider with a powerful block to deny Drussyla, before Ebrar Karakurt fired a smash through the block for 3-5. The following plays swung one way then the other, as the final set reached a gripping 9-9 deadlock before Rosamaria forced a blockout, Brazil 10-9 in front, prompting Turkey coach Guidetti to call timeout, where he gave an impassioned team-talk on the sidelines. Determined to deliver for their coach, the ‘Sultans of the Net’ lived up to the name, Karakurt forcing a blockout to level before Erdem Dundar delivered two captain’s points from the spike to ease Turkey to match-point at 11-14. Although Brazil foiled the first two attempts, they would not wrestle the medal from their grip, leading match-scorer Baladin with the killer blow as she smashed the ball down to send the Turkish bench into raptures with the podium finish in their grasp.