Monday 14 October 2013

Vakifbank Istanbul wins their first FIVB Women's Club World Championships

At the end of five days of intense volleyball, the 7th Women’s Club World Championships came to a halt yesterday in Zurich, Switzerland. Saalsporthalle, a well known multi-purpose stadium in Zurich were roped in as hosts this year. Since the re-introduction of this tournament in 2010, this was the first occasion the tournament was held outside of Qatar. Prior to 2010, the championships were held thrice in 1991, 1992 and 1994 after which it was discontinued.

Apart from the host team Voléro Zürich, there were teams from Africa (Kenya Prisons), Asia (Guangdong Evergrande, China), South America (Unilever Vôlei, Brazil), Iowa Ice, representative of North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) and the reigning European champions Vakifbank Istanbul.

Voléro Zürich and Vakifbank Istanbul remained unbeaten in their respective pools A and B while Guangdong Evergrande and Unilever Vôlei finished second behind Zurich and Istanbul clubs.
The two semi-finals turned out to be very one sided. In the first semi-final between Vakifbank and Guangdong there was a close fight in the first set which Vakifbank eventually won 28-26. The next two were relatively easy as Vakifbank cruised to their second finals.

In the second semi-final though the hosts had the local support, the flair and talent came from the Brazilian side. After a closely fought first set, Voléro Zurich surrendered in the next two sets. The best they could hope for was to fight for the 3rd place.

And the hosts started off well claiming the first set. The next three sets saw an outstanding display of commitment from the Asian champions as they claimed the bronze spot and thereby becoming the first Asian country to achieve a top 3 finish at this competition.

If one looks at the history of this championship which began in 1991, there have been three Brazilian winners and all the three clubs being different. Unilever were playing their first finals while things were slightly different for their rivals. After a straight sets loss in 2011, Vakifbank were playing their second finals in three years. Their form throughout the year was outstanding and looked good to claim their first World club title.

Jovana Brakocevic, a Serbian national team player and a rock star for the Turkish club was a dominant force to reckon with for the entire match. The tall Serbian collected points for all three scoring skills category. Her spike, block and the high jump serve was thrilling to watch from the seats but not so pleasant if you were a Brazilian fan or the team which had no clue most of the time. She finished the match with 23 points that included 3 blocks and one serving ace.

Vakifbank Istanbul won the finals comfortably after a tight second set (25-23, 27-25 and 25-16). Jovana Brakocevic was rightly named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament. The winners were awarded USD 200,000 while the runners-up and 3rd place team got USD 110,000 and USD 60,000 respectively.

The 2013 Women's Club World Championship Dream Team went this way:
1st Best Outside Spiker: Kenia Carcaces (Voléro Zurich)
2nd Best Outside Spiker: Kirdar Sonsirma Gözde (Vakifbank Istanbul)
1st Best Middle Blocker: Christiane Fürst (Vakifbank Istanbul)
2nd Best Middle Blocker: Carol (Unilever Vôlei)
Best Libero: Yuko Sano (Voléro Zurich)
Best Setter: Jingsi Shen (Guangdong Evergrande)
Best Opposite Spiker: Sarah Pavan (Unilever Vôlei)
Most Valuable Player: Jovana Brakocevic (Vakifbank Istanbul)

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