Eda Erdem (TUR)

Turkey have powered into the 2021 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League with some strong performances - and where this was not possible, with a remarkable resiliance and ability to fight back and never give up.

After five matches, Turkey remain undefeated and trail only defending champions USA in the standings of the Round Robin tournament which will see the top four advance to the semifinals.

"We are proud of what we have achieved so far," says Erdem. "But it's a long journey. Every team is so strong, every match is difficult, because every three days you play three games in a row. I think that now more difficult games are ahead of us. We are of course happy about these five consecutive wins. Two games were really difficult - against Serbia and Canada, but we are happy that we won and we will try to collect as many victories as possible."

Despite the challenges that lay ahead, as the competition progresses, Turkey are aiming straight for the Final Four of the 2021 VNL.

"First of all, we want to win as many games as we can," adds the captain of the Turkish team, who will celebrate her 34th birthday on 22 June, while still in the Rimini 'bubble'.

"Then we want to be in the Final Four, because before the Olympic Games it's important for us to raise our level high and be 100% ready for Tokyo. We came here for a medal. So far we are doing good, but first we have to reach the Final Four and then fight for that medal."


Eda Erdem tries to get past the block of Germany's Lina Alsmeier and Marie Schoelzel at the 2021 VNL.

But there's still a long way ahead.

"So far, life in the bubble is great," says Erdem. "It's already our 11th day here but time seems to fly so fast. Sometimes it's a bit hard, but when we have beach time on days off, we walk, we enjoy some sun and it helps us. Also on every day off we have three hours of practice, but the weather is perfect, food is perfect - and it's the most important for us, because we are in Italy. It's hard to stay all the time inside the hotel and have three match days in a row, but we enjoy it and try to have as much fun as possible."

Meanwhile, the Turkish squad already have one eye on the Tokyo Olympics.

"We are so proud of what we have achieved in the last few years," says Erdem. "It is really great for Turkish volleyball and for us, because we reached a high level, so after the Olympic qualification we felt so much joy, happiness and pride. The Turkish fans always support us and they always expect really good performances and this gives us a boost of motivation. The most important thing is to be healthy in Tokyo and then play as good as we can and win our pool and then we will see. We will take it day by day, step by step. But I'm super happy to be going there."

Erdem has a special role within in the Turkish national team to guide and inspire her teammates as the most experienced player on the squad.

"I'm the oldest on the team and leader and captain, so it's also a big responsibility, but I really like to help my team," she says. "In general I like to help people and when I'm in a good shape I know that I can help my team and this gives me power. We like each other, we are a group of such great players and, as is I hope evident, all can see we really enjoy being together on the court. We do our best and I'm really proud of it."