European Volleyball, the blues are out: Turkey extinguishes the dream of playing in the final.  Game overturned by Melissa Vargas

European Volleyball, the blues are out: Turkey extinguishes the dream of playing in the final. Game overturned by Melissa Vargas

Melissa Vargas will take care of extinguishing Italy’s dreams of playing for the final of the European volleyball championship. There will be Turkey to contend for the continental title held by the blues. The Cuban naturalized Turkish player (she obtained citizenship in 2021 directly from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan), a powerful and formidable striker, wakes up at the end of the fourth set, when the Italians led by Miriam Sylla seem one step away from victory, and overturns the outcome of the match. She almost single-handedly wins the fourth set, takes everyone to the decisive fifth set and leads the Turks, who win the tie-break with a clear 15-6. The girls coached by Davide Mazzanti will play the final for 3rd-4th place on Sunday against the winner of the Serbia-Netherlands match scheduled for the evening. A very bitter final for the outgoing champions, which risks making Mazzanti’s bench wobble after the 2021 Olympic disaster and the missed final of last year’s World Cup. What will the Federation decide in view of the Paris 2024 Games? Italy, which in these Europeans hadn’t lost even a set against very modest opponents, starts the match head-on against the team in the best shape of the moment, the one coached by the Italian Daniele Santarelli. On July 13, during the Volley Nation League (won by Turkey), the Anatolians had liquidated Italvolley with a dry three to zero in the space of an hour. The blue formation, however, was very different from that available to Mazzanti today. On the pitch, a few weeks ago, there was a sort of Italy B, while today there were the owners and, in the opposite role usually reserved for Paola Egonu, Ekaterina Antropova, a 2.02m player who obtained Italian citizenship a few days before the European Championship. The attitude is very different than in July. The Azzurri remain glued to their opponents until 10-10 in the first set. As soon as the situation gets complicated, Mazzanti calls time-out and makes a double substitution: he lines up Egonu in place of the setter Alessia Orro and then the setter Francesca Bosio in place of Antropova. Italy unlocks and gains momentum, containing the broadsides of Vargas (especially thanks to the walls of Anna Danesi). She wins the first set leaving Santarelli’s players at 17 points. Some distractions mark the beginning of the second set, Antropova is in trouble and at 7-3 for Turkey she goes out giving way to Egonu. The Turkish captain Eda Erdem and her companions seem to have been galvanized. Standing out above all Ebrar Karakurt (former Igor Novara player), irrepressible both physically and in character, to the point that the referee is forced to call her back to a correct outfit by showing her a yellow card: it is Santarelli who approaches her to calm the celebrations . Italy goes into blackout, accumulates a disadvantage that struggles to fill. Turkey can easily administer the game and even the score of the sets. The third half of the match, with Egonu starting on the pitch, mirrors the second in the sense that this time it is the blues who acquire a clear advantage of almost ten points, they play smoothly and take the result two sets to one. The fourth seems to go one way for Sylla and her companions, the final is one step away, but when you reach the threshold of 20 points, something jams and the Turkish-Cuban Vargas takes the chair. Until that moment her attacks had not been effective, they ran into the blue wall or were replayed by the Italian defense. When she, on the other hand, sees the final slip away, the opposite brings out the grit and – summoned by the setter – she is always ready. Thanks to her, Turkey catches and surpasses Italy, equalizing the set count. In the tie-break, in the Italian field nothing seems to work: the blues stop playing well before the fifteenth and last point of the Turkish. Italy, without the libero Monica De Gennaro and the spiker Caterina Bosetti (left at home by Mazzanti), appeared less effective in defense and reception (only 16% accuracy in this fundamental game) and so was setter Alessia Orro couldn’t sort out the attacks well. Elena Pietrini, who will play for Dinamo Kazan next season, did what she could in defense (in reception, a catastrophic 9%), but she made a big contribution in attack (her 17 points). Egonu demonstrated his qualities by scoring 25 points, while Antropova missed the decisive appointment: only 4 points, of which two in attack (out of 10 balls attacked). Plenty to work with in view of Paris. Previous Article Formula 1, in the free practice of the Monza gp, Ferrari shines again and approaches Red Bull

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