Turkish star Neslihan calls PH volleyball atmosphere ‘unbelievable’

With the help of its seventh man—the energetic and boisterous Pinoy fans—the PSL F2 Logistics Manila team finally notched a set Friday against no less than defending champion Eczacibasi Vitra.

The PH delegates may have lost its third straight game in as much outings in the 2016 Women’s Club World Championship but the come-from-behind victory in the third frame was enough to send fans (in attendance, watching on TV or following the action online) into a frenzy as the MOA Arena erupted in with cheers and dance moves from delighted supporters.

But while some may consider playing against the home crowd a huge disadvantage, Eczacibasi Vitra’s team captain, Neslihan Demir, had nothing but good words for the passionate Filipinos.

“The crowd was perfect. It was an unbelievable atmosphere. It was very good. Thanks to them. It wasn’t offensive. They were very good,” she told FOX Sports minutes after their win.

On their way to sweeping the PSL crew, the Tigers faced a major roadblock at the tail-end of the third set following back-to-back-to-back service aces from Jaja Santiago.

Talking about losing their lead and failing to close out the match in three, Neslihan shares: “We did a lot of easy mistakes. Then they started to play defense on every ball. We just got lost.”

The skipper top scored for Eczacibasi with 23 points with Hande Baladin and Gozde Yilmaz chipping in 21 and 16 markers, respectively.

Interestingly, the Turkish team’s star-studded starting six which includes Olympians Tijana Boscovic, Thaisa Daher, Jordan Larson and Tatiana Kosheleva did not see one minute of action.

“We know that the starters won’t play because we have a very important game coming up. The starters played in 5 sets (the other day) and we don’t have a chance to rest so it was good for us. The next game is too early so it’s a rest for all of them,” explained Neslihan.

It was a strategy that will prove genius for head coach Massimo Barbolini as he and his wards are set to face fellow powerhouse team, Vakifbank Istanbul, Saturday night for a spot in the finals.

“It will be el classico. Both are Turkish teams and everyone can expect a good game,” said the opposite spiker. —BY Mac Dionisio

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