• Vakifbank batters Volero Zurich, bags bronze

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    Vakifbank’s Ting Zhu smashes one on Volero’s Foluke Akinradewo (16) and Josefa Fabiola Almeida De Sousa Alves (3) during the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship presented by PLDT on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Vakifbank’s Ting Zhu smashes one on Volero’s Foluke Akinradewo (16) and Josefa Fabiola Almeida De Sousa Alves (3) during the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship presented by PLDT on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Vakifbank rediscovered its vaunted firepower in the deciding set to clobber Volero Zurich, 25-14, 21-25, 25-22, 25-11, and bag the bronze medal of the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship presented by PLDT on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

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    The Turkish powerhouse, which won the gold medal in 2013, banked on balanced output and rock-solid defense to complete its journey in this prestigious tournament organized by Philippine Superliga and Eventcourt with TV5, Petron, Nature’s Spring, Asics, BMW and F2 Logistics as sponsors, Diamond Hotel as official residence and Turkish Airlines as official airlines.

    Earlier, Rexona-Sesc Rio went through the wringer before pulling off a masterful conquest of Hisamitsu Springs Kobe, 20-25, 25-22, 25-15, 30-32, 15-7, to settle for fifth place in this world-class event also bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), San Miguel Corporation, Rexona, Mall of Asia Arena, Foton and Price Waterhouse Cooper with Mikasa, Gerflor and Jinling as technical sponsors.

    Sloetjes, the star player of the Dutch national team, delivered 16 kills while Serbian Milena Rasic had seven of her 15 points off blocks and Rio Olympics Most Valuable Player Zhu Ting submitted eight kills and five blocks for 13 points for VakifBank, which will enter the new season of the Turkish league oozing with momentum.

    Skipper Kirdar had 11 markers while Akman Kubra finished with nine points.

    “We will go to the Turkish league with the same team,” said VakifBank coach Giovanni Guidetti. “We will not change much. We will go to every match with the same squad. Right now, Eczacibasi is incredible. But I know we have a lot of chance to compete with them, especially after this win.”

    Guidetti, 43, who steered VakifBank to the European Champions League crown in 2011 and 2013, also expressed gratitude to the local organizers for pulling off a good hosting of this prestigious event, which was held in Zurich for the past three years.

    “I would like to congratulate the Philippines and the Filipino fans for their good organization of this tournament. Everything was really organized. It was such a great show.”

    VakifBank played defense to perfection with 19 blocks while limiting star player Foluke Akinradewo to only six kills for a total of 10 points. The Turkish side also had six aces compared to the Swiss club’s only three while also dominating the spikes department, 47-39, most of which coming in the crucial fourth set where the Turkish squad completed the blasting.

    “I’m proud of my players,” said Guidetti, whose wards tallied a world-record 27 blocks against Hisamitsu Springs Kobe in the group stages. “They put in a good performance on the court. They had a lot of courage and finished it with a win. It was really nice to finish with the win, even if it is not the final match we’ve been dreaming of.”

    Dobriana Rabadzhieva registered 12 kills for 13 points for Volero Zurich, which was unbeaten in the pool play before crashing with a pair of losses to Pomi Casalmaggiore in the semifinals and VakifBank in the classification battle to settle for 6th place.

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