Turkey took the bronze medal after a commanding performance against Japan in the third place match of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL). They won three sets to nil in Rimini, Italy, on Friday evening, 25 June.
The Sultans took the lead in the first set and never looked back, winning 25-19, 25-16, 25-17. Despite strong challenges from the Japanese side, the Turks maintained control throughout.
Their superiority was reflected in their star player Ebrar Karakurt, who was on top form in attack and defence. The pink-haired player averaged 65% for attack (24/37) and ended the game with a match-high score of 29, making Karakurt one of the top scorers of the tournament.
According to Volleyball World, “Karakurt just missed out on an entry into the list of players to have scored 30 points or more in a single VNL game. One more point in the bronze medal match and she would have been the first player in the history of the competition to have achieved the feat in just three sets.”
Turkey’s captain Eda Erdem was another of the team’s best players on Friday, literally leading from the front and delivered with 13 points of her own, and multiple blocks. Erdem starred alongside Tuğba Şenoğlu, whose incredible attacking statistics averaged 58% (49/84).
In pictures: Turkey’s Sultans celebrate winning bronze
Bronz madalya mücadelemizden öne çıkan kareler. 🇹🇷📸🥉 pic.twitter.com/KDQ13CxmDV
— Türkiye Voleybol Fed (@TVForgtr) June 25, 2021
In comparison, Sarina Koga was Japan’s best scorer on 11 points.
Turkey had gone into the third place play-off as underdogs. They had played Japan 13 times prior to Friday’s game, losing eight of them including 3-1 in the preliminary round robin phase of this year’s VNL.
VNL bronze medal match between Japan & Turkey, Italy, 25 June 2021
The win made up for the disappointing defeat to the USA in the semi-finals. Tournament favourites, the Americans had beaten Turkey 3-0 on Thursday, and went on to win gold against Brazil on Friday.
Turkey’s bronze medal means they have been in the top four of the VNL for three consecutive years (the 2020 VNL tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic). Their best place came in 2018, when they took silver after losing to the USA in the final.