Montreux, Switzerland, 07. September 2018- Giovanni Guidetti’s Turkey ensured that they qualified for the 2018 Montreux Masters semi-finals as Pool A winners, collecting a maximum nine points from their three group matches with a solitary set conceded within that time after a 0-3 (21-25, 15-25, 22-25) humbling of hosts Switzerland.
Guidetti opted to rest some of his key players for what was ultimately a dead-rubber game for his side, with Hatice Gizem Örge, Beyza Arici, Seyma Ercan, Hande Baladin, Cagla Akin, Zehra Gunes, and Ebrar Karakurt all starting, and influential performers such as captain Eda Erdem Dundar, leading scorer Meryem Boz, Meliha İsmailoğlu, and Cansu Özbay all rested.
An early exchange of blocks from either side in the opening set- Gabi Schottroff for the hosts and Karakurt for Turkey, saw both teams to an 8-8 stalemate early on. A Baladin smash and a great rally point clinched by Ercan helped the Turks build a 9-16 lead, before a succession of errors- characteristic of Turkey’s play throughout this competition so far- let the Swiss back in, the lead reduced to 15-18. With an exchange of points taking the set to 18-20, a smash from Karakurt and a brilliant block from Ercan to settle a heart-stopping rally gave the visitors breathing space, before another block by Akin took them to set point. They converted at the second time of asking, Karakurt again involved with a powerful spike down the middle to consign the first set to the history books as 21-25 with Turkey in the lead.
And the excellent Karakurt was heavily involved again in the second set, a brace of aces and a neat spike amongst the highlights as the visitors sped into an 11-19 lead. Hande Baladin then came up with two pieces of individual brilliance for Guidetti’s side, a spike and an ace outfoxing Swiss Libero Thays Deprati to take Turkey to 12-21. Another smash from Karakurt was too hot for Maja Storck to handle as the Turkish locomotive continued on its course, edging to set point at 15-25 before Seyma Ercan- comparatively quiet in this set- rose to spike an almighty hit through the arms of Deprati to emphatically seal the second set 15-25 for a comfortable 0-2 advantage.
The Turks would make hard work of the closing set, the Swiss making the early headway with an 8-4 lead after a Méline Pierret smash and a succession of errors from the Turkish players, but the ‘Queens of the Net’ lived up to the name as they mounted a comeback, Ercan striking twice alongside an Arici block to level at 8-8. Momentum would shift back the way of the hosts, however, a succession of points seeing a 14-10 lead for the Alpine nation after Storck delicately touched a ball over the top of the double block from Ercan and Gunes.
Guidetti called timeout to remonstrate with his players, and he got the reaction he wanted as the set wore down to its closure with Baladin, Arici, and Karakurt all scoring, before the influential Gunes touched down to put the visitors on match point, 22-24. Switzerland’s Laura Kunzler rose for the kill to keep the hosts in the game after a thrilling rally it seemed, but she was unable to beat the double block of Ercan and Gunes as the ball grounded for Turkey to score the winner at 22-25, crowning a 0-3 victory.
The disappointed Swiss now look to their classification match on Saturday as they seek to salvage some pride from their campaign, whilst Turkey march onto the semi-finals; the only team to secure maximum points from their three group games at this year’s tournament.