Captain Pelin Eroktay tallied 20 points in the Turkish victory

Turkey were the first team to complete their match schedule in the Pool B of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Durango, Mexico, as the Europeans secured their third win in four matches with a 3-2 victory over Egypt on Thursday.

Later in the day, Italy extended their winning streak in the tournament to three matches with a straight-set victory against the Dominican Republic at the Auditorio del Pueblo.

With three victories each, Turkish and Italians are guaranteed in the Round of 16. The final two spots are between Peru, Dominican Republic and Egypt. The South and Central American have each one win while the Africans are still looking for their first triumph in Mexico. On Friday, the final day of competition in pool play, Italy will play Peru while the Dominican Republic face Egypt.

The Turkish ended their campaign in the pool in a rollercoaster of a match that saw them clinch the victory after the Egyptians managed to tie it in two sets. The Europeans had advantage in kills (67-49), blocks (11-6) and aces (11-8), but their highest number of errors (25-17) kept the Africans in the match.

Outside hitter Ege Bukmen was instrumental in the Turkish victory with 24 points (17 kills, three blocks, four aces), as was opposite and team captain Pelin Eroktay, who delivered 20, all in kills. Egypt had middle blocker Ayatallah Ahmed and outside hitter Malak Elbehiry as their top scorers with 15 points each.

“Today we didn’t play as well as we wanted,” Eroktay reflected. “Egypt did a great job in defense and serve receiving and it was hard for us to play against them. After playing in four consecutive days, it was expected our energy level would be a little bit lower, but we now have a couple of days off to rest and prepare and will come back stronger for the playoffs.”

Italy continue in great form as after dropping the first set of the tournament on Tuesday, the Europeans have won nine straight, including three against the Dominicans. The Europeans were superior is every aspect of the match, but the main difference was on offense, with a 37-21 advantage in kills.

Dominika Giuliani was among the match's top scorers

Dominika Giuliani was among the match's top scorers

Outside hitters Julia Ituma, with 15 points (11 kills, four aces) and Dominika Giuliani, with 14 (11 kills, three aces), led the Italian offense. Middle blockers Alondra Tapia and Alanae Margaritha were the Dominican top scorers with six points each.

“I’m really happy that we won, but we all felt like we could have played better,” outside hitter Manuela Ribechi reflected. “We have a lot to improve and one area I think we can do it is on our serving. Tomorrow we play Peru ahead of the elimination round and I hope we can play better.”