If the first semi-final featuring Azerbaijan and the Netherlands had turned into a spine-tingling thriller, Serbia were on a class of their own as they routed Turkey in three sets (25-17, 25-12, 25-21) to secure their spot in the gold medal match of the 2017 women’s EuroVolley. On Sunday, Serbia will play the ‘Oranjes’ – and the eventual winners of the ‘grand finale’ will secure their second European title in history, since Holland won gold in 1995 on home soil – and Serbia did just the same in 2011 in Belgrade. Serbia easily disposed of Turkey – as much as they had done earlier this summer in a match on schedule for the Intercontinental Round of the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix. The gold medal match will be a repeat of the game Serbia and the Netherlands played last Saturday in Pool D in Ganja – where the Serbians recorded one of their four 3-0 victories in the tournament so far.
Serbia had looked extremely dominant in all of their previous matches in the tournament and their start to the semi-final with Turkey was just as imperative. Tijana Boskovic, Brankica Mihajlovic and the other members of the Balkan team put on a show as they outclassed their opponent in all aspects of the game – a performance which eventually resulted in a compelling 25-17 win for the 2015 bronze medal winners and silver medallists from the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The course of the game did not change much in the second set with Serbia looking in full control (8-3, 16-8) as the second semi-final was a lot more one-sided than the previous, dramatic matchup featuring the Netherlands and hosts Azerbaijan. Serbia were just adding another chapter to their superb campaign at the 2017 women’s EuroVolley – where going into the semis, they had dropped only one set in four matches to Belgium during the pool phase they contested in Ganja. It looked as if Turkey had spent too much physical and mental energy in their 3-0 dispatch of Russia the night before and Serbia won the second set at a canter (25-12).
Despite many changes to their initial starting six, Turkey could not find a way to pose a threat to Serbia – and a visibly frustrated Giovanni Guidetti asked for a time-out as Serbia stormed to a 6-2 lead early in the third set. Turkey somehow were able to get closer (16-14) as it was not easy for Serbia to keep that same level of concentration and intensity for the entire game – and a double block on Boskovic eventually paved the way towards the 18-all. No matter how it would end, some excitement was finally there – but Serbia soon set their sights on the finish line as they claimed three points in a row (22-19) and deservedly sealed a 3-0 victory.
Stefana Veljković, middle blocker of Serbia: “I did not expect 3-0, but we played really well today and as we always do, we controlled the easy balls and took the points. Tomorrow will be a funny game because we just played a few days ago. For every game it is the same, we have to control ourselves and our elements and everything will be fine.”
Zoran Terzić, head coach of Serbia: “At this moment Serbia has more quality than Team Turkey, that’s for sure, but also Turkey yesterday played an incredibly good game and surprised everybody by beating Russia 3-0. They definitely exerted a lot of emotion yesterday and could not play on the same level today – especially when we speak about motivation and energy on the court, which made it a little easier for us. However, that does not really matter now – we played a very good game and we have to be satisfied with the result. The final with the Netherlands? Definitely the two best teams in this championship and I hope for an amazing game tomorrow.”
Gözde Kirdar, player of Turkey: “Yesterday we played an incredible game and normally, after a quarterfinal we would have one day off but actually, we finished our match around 11:00 and immediately had to start preparing for Serbia, who had played one day before. I cannot say that this was the reason why we lost but yesterday we played on such high adrenalin. But again, I cannot blame this loss on this – Serbia served really well, they blocked really well, they attacked really well – we couldn’t stop any of their weapons. Our chance is tomorrow and we need to focus on that now.”
Giovanni Guidetti, head coach of Turkey: “I think yesterday we played above our abilities and today we had no chance against a team like Serbia. Their Volleyball is on another level, for which we are not ready yet. We just have to accept it, learn and work hard.
“For us, being in the top four is already something pretty big. I think there are some teams better than us, who are below us in the standing. Let us see tomorrow; Azerbaijan is playing very well, they are at home and want to win a medal – just like us. For sure tactically it will be easier than today, but we have to play against Azerbaijan and they showed what they can do, they have amazing attackers, an amazing server, so it will be a pretty difficult match again.”