Baku, June 26, AZERTAC
Turkey mixed steel with style as they defeated Azerbaijan 3-2 to reach the inaugural European Games women's Volleyball final.
It was a very different game compared to the teams' meeting in their final game of Pool A, when Turkey easily triumphed 3-0.
Azerbaijan were clearly inspired by the capacity crowd in Crystal Hall as the two teams traded points early in the first set in a nervous opening.
Turkey held their nerve against the home side to emerge as 25-21 winners thanks to some strong play by Neriman Ozsoy.
In the second set, however, Turkey struggled to contain the power of the tournament’s top scorer Polina Rahimova as Azerbaijan blasted their way to a 25-23 victory in front of watching President Ilham Aliyev.
The Turks regrouped in the third set and started to dominate the game, surging into a five-point lead and fending off a series of Azerbaijan revivals to claim a 25-19 win.
The tables turned once more as Azerbaijan hit back to take the enthralling fourth set 25-23 as the crowd erupted in joy.
Eventually, the Turkish talent and tenacity triumphed as they closed out the fifth set 15-11, to put an end to the game and silence the noisy crowd.
"It was a difficult game, but we controlled our emotions. It was an amazing atmosphere, very tense, but we played team volleyball and that is why we won," said Ozsoy, who enjoyed an impressive evening as she scored 26 points for her team.
"But congratulations to Azerbaijan, they played very well and it was a high level game. I think we won in the end because we know each other very well. We wanted to fight for every ball and in the tie-break, our experience made the difference."
Turkey will face Poland in Saturday's gold medal match, where they hope to beat rivals to whom they lost 3-2 in their first Pool A match on 13 June.
Ozsoy added: "The final will be different. We know that they are a very good team, but we are ready to fight with them. If they want to beat us, it will not be easy. We are ready to fight for the gold."
In the day’s first semi-final, Poland managed a 3-2 win against Serbia. The final will be played at 18:30 on Saturday, and the bronze medal match between Azerbaijan and Serbia will be played at 16:00 on the same day.