Nanjing, China, June 30, 2018 - Turkey's remarkable run continued on Saturday as they cleaned up Brazil 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-22) and saw Meryem Boz's 14 points help lift them into the final of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
Cue scenes of jubilation in the Turkish camp. After two five-setters to open the inaugural VNL finals series - one a loss to the USA, and then a win over Serbia - there was a slight expectation that Turkey might have been feeling the effects of their long campaign. Opposite Boz's tally - which featured 14 kills spread across the three sets - put paid to such thoughts as the Turks led pretty much from start to finish against the South Americans.
All praise should go to Boz - whose heroics in the final preliminary round against Germany lifted Turkey into the finals - but the Turks have got this far through sheer teamwork, and support at the Olympic Sports Centre on Saturday was provided by wing spiker Hande Baladin with 14 points also, and her personal power show in the later stages of the match, and middle blocker Zehra Gunes with 10 points that featured four vital stuffs.
Brazil had powered through their opening two matches in this finals series - with 3-0 wins against the Netherlands and China - but fell just short as the Turks poured on the pressure. Wing spiker Tandara Caixeta was her usual immense self with a match-leading 20 points, which included 19 kills and a block. Wing spiker Gabriela Guimaraes was also in the thick of things all match and ended up with a tally of 14 points.
Brazil will be disappointed but nothing should take away from the effort Turkey have turned in so far. Coach Giovanni Guidetti's charges have been the surprise packets of the VNL, sneaking their way into the finals thanks to that 3-1 victory over Germany on June 15, then rebounding from a marathon 3-2 loss to the USA in opening play here with a gritty 3-2 win over highly fancied Serbia that saw them force their way into the semifinals.
Guidetti has quite obviously instilled a never-say-die attitude in the squad and any initial concerns that their previous workload might have had an impact were dismissed in a first set that set the tone for the entire match. The Turks established a lead, and then poured on the pressure.
The consolation prize for Brazil will be a match-up in Sunday's play-off for third and fourth against whomever loses Saturday's night match between reigning world champions the USA and Olympic champions China - while the Turks will no doubt be transfixed by the same match and by the thought of who might now stand between them and history on Sunday.