DEFENDING champion Eczasibasi VitrA Istanbul booked a return trip to the finals, beating 2013 titlist Vakifbank Istanbul, 25-23, 19-25, 25-17, 25-23, on Saturday in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Eczasibasi VitrA Istanbul had all its guns loaded after resting off its starters and Olympians
Tijana Boskovic and Maja Ognjenovic of Serbia, Jordan Larson-Burbach and Rachael Adams of the US, Tatiana Kosheleva of Russia and Thaisa Daher Pallesi of Brazil were back in action for Eczasibasi VitrA after sitting out the match against PSL-F2 Logistics Manila.
Boskovic, a member of the Serbian squad that bagged silver in the Rio Olympics, paced Eczasibasi VitrA Istanbul with 22 points from 17 kills, two blocks and three service aces.
Koshelava had 13 markers, Daher Pallesi scored 12, Larson-Burbach and Ognjenovic added 10 apiece and Adams scored eight.
Eczasibasi VitrA Istanbul, which defeated Dinamo Krasnodar in the final of last year’s tournament, have won all four matches and will face the winner of the match between Volero Zurich and Pomi Casalmaggiore.
“There’s pressure on the team on winning the championship last season, but I don't believe in what happened in the past, every season is a new season,” said Eczasibasi VitrA Istanbul coach Massimo Barbolini.
“Being in the finals is a great result but it's not enough,” he added. “One ball can change everything, I don't know what can happen.”
“It was a wonderful match. I'm very happy that we won thanks to defense. We have unbelievable plays in attack, but if we want to win against unbelievable teams like VakifBank, you have to play good defense, attack and block is not enough,” said Barbolini.
Zhu Ting, a member of the Chinese squad that topped the Rio Games, scored 23 for VakifBank Istanbul, while Lonneke Sloetjes added 10.
VakifBank Istanbul will face the loser of the match between Volero Zurich and Pomi Casalmaggiore for the third place.