Turkey rally past Japan in World Grand Prix five-set thriller


Turkey dug deep to come back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Japan in the FIVB World Grand Prix.

Long Beach, California, USA June 17, 2016  - Polen Uslupehlivan led Turkey to a 3-2 (21-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 15-13) win over Japan in FIVB World Grand Prix Pool E on Friday evening at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California.

Uslupehlivan led Turkey in scoring with 25 points, while Hande Baladin added 16 points. Japan was paced by Saori Sakoda’s 16 points, while Mami Uchiseto and Rio Otake each added 10 points. Turkey held a 28-5 block advantage, but committed 42 errors in the match. Japan held a 11-5 ace margin.


Turkey improve to 2-2 through the first four days of World Grand Prix competition. The Turkish side plays Germany on the second day of Pool E in Long Beach. Japan falls to 1-3 in the World Grand Prix Group 1. Turkey face Germany on Saturday at 17:10 local, while Japan challenge host USA at 19:10 on Saturday.

Turkey opened the first set leading 5-1, but Otake served consecutive aces to pull Japan to within one at 5-4. Turkey rose to the occasion with a 4-1 run with strong serving by Baladin. Turkey expanded their advantage to 14-8 on Japan’s seventh error of the set prompting a timeout. Onal served an ace to lift Turkey to a 16-9 lead at the second technical timeout, but Japan caught fire out of the break. Japan sliced the gap to 16-12 with an Otake block capping a 3-0 run. Japan kept the pressure up as they closed the deficit to 19-18 on consecutive Sakoda aces. Shimamura found a hole in the Turkish block to tie the set at 20-all. Japan took the lead at 22-21 on a Shimamura ace after Miyashita scored on a setter dump. Sakoda finished the set with eight points.

In the second set, Turkey broke a 7-all tie with 10 unanswered points to assume a 17-7 advantage on Aydinlar’s serve and Onal’s powerful attacks. Uslupehlivan capped the run with a kill down the line. Baladin placed a well form block on Japan to stretch the Turkey lead to 22-12 and the European squad eased into a 25-16 lead to knot the match at one set each.

Japan responded early in the third set by establishing a 9-6 lead. Onal served an ace to close Turkey’s deficit to 11-10. However, Uchiseto answered with consecutive aces to push Japan’s margin to five at 15-10. Trailing 18-13, Turkey rolled off four straight points., including a successful challenge on a three-meter violation, to move within one point at 18-17. Tanaka ended set three with a kill at 25-23 to give Japan a 2-1 lead in sets.

After a close start to the fourth set, Turkey earned a two-point cushion as Yurtdagulen slammed an overpass at 12-10. Turkey reached the second technical timeout with a three-point edge, 16-13. Japan called timeout trailing 20-15, then came out of the break to score three straight points to slice the deficit to 20-18 leading Turkey to call their own timeout. However, Turkey slammed the door and won the fourth set 25-21 to force a fifth set. Uslupehlivan had seven points for Turkey in the set.

Uslupehlivan served an ace to give Turkey a 4-2 lead early in the fifth set. Trailing 8-5, Japan closed to within one point at 8-7 on an ace by Miyashita prompting a Turkey timeout. Japan tied the set at 8-all with a kill from Uchiseto. Miyashita gave Japan their first lead of the set 10-9. Turkey took the lead back at 13-12 as Japan called timeout. Aydinlar put down a setter dump after an extended rally to give Turkey the win 15-13.


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