Two-time women’s club world champions Eczacibasi Dynavit Istanbul missed the last Club World Champs, but are back among the planet’s best at the upcoming 2022 edition from December 14 through 18 in Antalya, looking strong in their quest for a third world title. The Tigers are still led by their Serbian star opposite Tijana Boskovic, the Most Valuable Player of the last two FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships and of the 2016 Club World Championship.
Eczacibasi back among the world’s best
The Istanbul powerhouse return to the Club World Champs to chase their third title
Published 07:00, 07 Dec 2022
The Istanbul club has taken on the role of tournament hosts and although the event will take place away from their home city, in Antalya, Eczacibasi will enjoy the support of the crowd, along with their city rivals VakifBank Istanbul, who qualified as 2022 CEV Champions League winners.
Unusually, Eczacibasi did not qualify to play in the last edition of the Champions League, but they competed in Europe’s second strongest club tournament, the CEV Cup, and claimed the trophy for the third time in their history. Domestically, they finished third in both the Turkish league and the national cup, earning the right to compete in the Champions League again this season.
And this season they have so far been impeccable, on a winning streak of 14 consecutive matches across all competitions, that started in late April with the Misli.com Sultanlar Ligi two-match bronze medal series. Eczacibasi are also top of the current Turkish league standings with nine wins in nine games and only a single set dropped along the way. Their victorious run included emphatic wins over all four of the other top-level Istanbul teams: VakifBank, Fenerbahce Opet, Turk Hava Yollari and Galatasaray HDI Sigorta. They have also won their first three games in Türkiye’s AXA Sigorta Kupa 2022-2023 season. They are about to play their first Champions League game on Wednesday and have one more domestic fixture on Sunday, before they head to Antalya for the Club World Championship.
Head coach Ferhat Akbas has a really solid squad at his disposal and they have the potential to extend their winning streak over the Club World Championship, despite the powerful opponents they are bound to meet. The core of the team is, of course, built around Eczacibasi’s distinguished Serbian duo of experienced playmaker Maja Ognjenovic and opposite Tijana Boskovic, but they have their backs covered in all positions.
21-year-old Turkish setter Elif Sahin and new addition, Croatian opposite Samanta Fabris have actually been getting as much playing time as their Serbian teammates. In fact, in recent matches, Akbas has alternated between Boskovic with Sahin and Fabris with Ognjenovic. He also has two teenage hopefuls on the roster, 17-year-old setter Dilay Ozdemir and 16-year-old opposite Defne Basyolcu.
Another new addition, Russian international Irina Voronkova highlights the line-up of outside hitters. She is in the company of Turkish internationals Hande Baladin, Saliha Sahin and Yaprak Erkek.
Eczacibasi’s list of middle blockers is headlined by another Turkish international, Beyza Arici, and Sinead Jack, a former Trinidad and Tobago national team member, now of adopted Turkish nationality, who played in the Italian league last season. They share their responsibilities with Belgium’s Laura Heyrman and Türkiye’s Yasemin Guveli.
Simge Sebnem Akoz of the Turkish national team, the Best Libero on the 2019 Club World Championship Dream Team, is still in charge of Eczcibasi’s defence and reception, now assisted by 20-year-old new addition Aybuke Cetinay.
In addition to their two titles in 2015 and 2016, Eczacibasi’s Club World Championship record includes a 2019 silver and a 2018 bronze out of a total of five appearances. They also triumphed in the 2015 Champions League and have been on the highest continental podium a total of five times. At home in Türkiye, the Istanbul giants have been national champions a record-high 28 times. They have also won the Türkiye Cup eight times and the Türkiye Super Cup five times.
The Club World Championship Antalya 2022 hosts will open the competition with a Pool A game against Brazil’s Dentil Praia Clube of Uberlandia, 2022 South American Club Championship silver medallists, on December 14 at 16:30 local time (13:30 UTC). Then, on December 16 at 16:00 (13:00), Eczacibasi will take on Italy’s Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano, silver medallists of the 2021 Club World Championship and the 2022 Champions League.