Jovana Brakocevic led Istanbul with 20 points while captain Kirdar Sonsirma Gözde contributed 19 kills for her side. Carol was the top scorer for Unilever Volei with 12 points. Istanbul had 19 (!) blocking points to Brazil’s 8, while both teams had 6 service aces.
Vakifbank Istanbul jumped out for a quick 4-1 lead early in the first set. Unilever coach Bernardinho had lined up 23-year young Roberta instead of former national team setter Fofão. The Turks were the better team at the start of Friday’s much-awaited duel between two of the tournament’s favourites. Captain Kirdar Sonsirma Gözde was the leading force for Istanbul while middle blocker Carol was the key player on the Brazilian side. At the second technical timeout, the Europeans led 16-14. At 15-19, Bernardinho eventually sent in Fafão who quickly had a positive impact. Unilever booked three consecutive points to shorten the gap to one point at 18-19. However, Istanbul kept the upper hand. Gözde brought up set point with a service winner and Jovana Brakocevic closed it out for Istanbul at 25-20.
Unilever Volei started the second set poorly and didn’t really get much better. Brazil coach Bernardinho called his second timeout as his team fell to 5-13. Gabi managed to land a couple of kills but her teammates struggled, perhaps not surprisingly as they had a short preparation phase before the tournament. The Turks meanwhile have won 48 matches in a row and were looking to continue their fantastic run here in Zurich. A well-timed tip by Gözde put Turkey 22-17 ahead and the Guidetti kept the pace until 25-18.
Brazil breezed into a four-point lead in the third set but an early timeout helped limit the damage, and the Turks turned the tables with six consecutive points to make it 9-7. There was nothing to separate the two teams in the middle of the third set but Unilever pulled away from 21-21 with Brankica Mihajlovic coming up with a block on Akman. A service winner from setter Roberta gave the South Americans a three-point advantage at 24-21. Carol ended it in Unilever’s favour with an impressive block kill on Carolina Costagrande.
However, Unilever’s set win was not more than a flash in the pan. The Europeans champions quickly regained momentum in the fourth set and never looked back until 25-18.
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