The Lega Pallavolo Femminile is widely recognised as one of the best women's domestic leagues in the world and features many of the leading players in international volleyball. These players have a huge impact on the outcome of the Italian League and this week we feature Turkish opposite Ebrar Karakurt, who just rejoined Igor Gorgonzola Novara after representing her country at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship, and will have a key role in their match against Wash4Green Pinerolo on Sunday.

For a number of reasons, it’s often hard to believe Ebrar Karakurt is just 22. Her maturity level, confident attitude on the court and trophy-filled resumé belong to a player who has already accomplished a lot.

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As with many precious talents, the Turkish opposite was exposed to the highest level of the sport from a very young age and that experience has shaped her personality and could determine what the future of her career will be.

Developed in the youth system of Bursa BBSK, Karakurt was spotted early by Turkish giants VakifBank Istanbul and signed with the club when she has only 16, ahead of the 2016-2017 season.

Still a teenager, she joined a squad coached by veteran Giovanni Guidetti which had some of the biggest stars of international volleyball at the time, including China’s Zhu Ting, USA’s Kimberly Hill, Serbia’s Milena Rasic and Türkiye’s Naz Aydemir.

Karakurt knew that it would take a lot of work to earn her space in the squad and her time at VakifBank has built her work ethic, her character as a player and also filled her medal rack. During the four seasons she spent at the club, the opposite won the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship, the CEV Champions League and the Turkish League twice and the Turkish Cup and the Turkish Super Cup once.

It was not a coincidence that the Turkish national team had some of their best results at the international level after she joined the squad, in 2018, shortly after she led her country to victory at the 2017 FIVB U23 World Championship. And it has managed to consistently remain among the top teams in the world.

Since then, the team has won two VNL medals (silver in 2018, bronze in 2021) and another two (silver in 2019, bronze in 2021) at the European Championship. With Karakurt as their main scorer, the Turkish also returned to the Olympics for just the second time in Tokyo last year, securing their best result so far, a fifth-place finish.

“I think my strong reactions galvanize the team,” Karakurt said about her on-court attitude during the event. “As a young player, I think it’s my duty to bring dynamism and excitement.”


Karakurt during her first Olympic appearance last year in Tokyo

Shortly after the Olympics, the opposite, then aged 21, decided to take the next step in her club career and agreed on a move to Igor Gorgonzola Novara, which would allow her to play in the Italian League and fulfill a childhood dream.

“When I was little, I watched the Italian league on TV,” she said. “It always seemed different and colourful to me. That was the reason in the beginning. It’s a very good league in terms of volleyball quality.”

Karakurt’s first season in Italy led to mixed results. Although Novara earned silver medals in both the Italian Cup and the Italian Supercup, the team couldn’t make it to the final of their main tournament in the season, the Italian League, having to settle for bronze.

Novara have made a little revamp of their squad in 2022-2023, adding American Olympic champion setter Jordyn Poulter and Italian national team middle blocker Anna Danesi, but continue to rely on Karakurt to provide the scoring punch the team needs to succeed throughout the season.

After a straight-set home win over Cbf Balducci Hr Macerata in their season-opening match last Sunday, Novara will go on the road for the first time on Wednesday to face Wash4Green Pinerolo, at 20.30 local time (18.30 GMT). On Sunday, at 17.00 local time (15.00 GMT), they should have an even tougher opponent in Savino Del Bene Scandicci.

Karakurt started the season well, tallying a match-high 18 points against Macerata, while registering an impressive five aces, and her performance earned her a first MVP trophy of the season.