Türkiye’s Meteoric Rise to the Top at CEV EuroVolley Women 2023

Turkish women's volleyball team celebrating on the EuroVolley podium.

History was written on the sands of European volleyball when Türkiye clinched their first-ever trophy at the CEV EuroVolley Women 2023, mounting an awe-inspiring comeback that had fans on the edge of their seats. An extraordinary tale of resilience, team spirit, and sheer talent unfolded as the underdogs Türkiye managed to outplay a formidable Serbian side.

The Set-Up

Both teams entered the championship riding on the momentum of eight-game winning streaks. This final promised drama, suspense, and a roller coaster of emotions for the fans. As the match progressed, there were moments when both Serbia and Türkiye looked destined to take home the coveted gold medal.

“It was always going to be a tense and dramatic final…a true roller coaster of emotions.”

The spotlight was inevitably on the two superstars of the event, Tijana Bošković and Melissa Vargas. These incredible athletes showcased their prowess, setting the court ablaze with their exceptional skills.

Round-by-Round Analysis

Delving deeper into the match, let’s break down the key moments, strategies, and standout performances in each set, painting a clearer picture of how the Netherlands secured their victory over Italy.

First Set: Serbia Sets the Pace

Despite Melissa Vargas’ thunderous strikes right from the match’s outset, it was the Serbian side that maintained their composure to seize the first set. Their clinical approach and strategic gameplay saw them close out with a tight score of 27:25.

Second Set: Türkiye’s Triumphant Return

The tides began to turn in the second set. Credit for Türkiye’s resurgence goes to the stellar trio:

  • Melissa Vargas
  • Ebrar Karakurt
  • Zehra Güneş

These three played in harmony, each adding a unique flair to the team’s tactics. With heightened efficiency, a barrage of aces, strategic spikes, and capitalizing on Serbian errors, Türkiye looked every bit the champion side, clinching the set 25:21.

Fourth Set: Vargas Steps Up

With the pressure mounting, Melissa Vargas emerged as the beacon of hope for Türkiye. In her debut CEV EuroVolley Women appearance, she showcased an exemplary performance, marked by unstoppable serves and resolute attacks.

“Vargas’ maiden CEV EuroVolley Women appearance was crucial for her side.”

She bore the weight of expectation gracefully, leading Türkiye to victory in the fourth set with a scoreline of 25:22.

The Tiebreaker: A Nail-biting Finish

In what was only the fourth final to be determined in a tiebreaker since 1987, both teams exhibited exceptional volleyball. Türkiye, with its superior defense and an ever-vigilant Vargas, had a slight edge. The climax of the match arrived at 10:8 in Türkiye’s favor, where Vargas elegantly sealed the point, setting them on a trajectory to ultimate victory. The tiebreaker concluded at 15:13, marking Türkiye’s ascent to European glory.

The Statistics Tale

PlayerPoints ScoredNotable Achievement
Melissa Vargas41Best Performance in Final
Tijana Bošković37Top Scorer in Competition

While Bošković’s 37 points were commendable, it was Vargas who stole the show with a monumental 41 points, a testament to her exceptional talent. Her performance is now etched in the annals of history as one of the finest in a CEV EuroVolley Women final.

Türkiye's volleyball star Melissa Vargas in mid-action.

Echoes of the Past and Hope for the Future

This victory was especially poignant for Türkiye, having previously lost two finals – one in 2003 and the other in 2019, ironically against Serbia, in Ankara. The CEV EuroVolley Women 2023 saw Türkiye not only avenge their past but also assert their dominance by adding the European title to their FIVB Women’s Nations League trophy won in July.

Conversely, Serbia added another feather to their cap, now holding three gold medals, three silver medals, and two bronze medals in the European premium competition.

The Battle for Bronze: Netherlands Triumphs Over Italy

In the shadow of the grand finale between Türkiye and Serbia, another intense battle was taking place at the Palais 12 in Bruxelles: the contest for the third spot on the podium. The Netherlands and Italy, two of Europe’s volleyball giants, clashed in what was expected to be a fierce face-off, and it certainly did not disappoint.

A Surprising Outcome

Many had their bets on Italy, especially given their remarkable 17-game winning streak leading up to this matchup. However, the Netherlands, known for their resilience and determination, had a different script in mind.

Set Breakdown:


The Dutch squad took Italy by storm, clinching victory in straight sets. Each set was a testament to the close competition, with mere points separating the two teams. Yet, the Netherlands managed to maintain a slender lead, ensuring they had the upper hand throughout the match.

Star Performers

While Italy’s Elina Pietrini and Ekaterina Antropova shone, scoring 18 and 15 points respectively, their efforts were matched, if not surpassed, by a collective display of brilliance by the Dutch team. Four players from the Netherlands managed to score at least 10 points each, demonstrating a balanced attack that Italy found difficult to counter.

“Facing an immovable object in the Netherlands, Italy’s champions struggled to leave their mark.”

This strategic balance in offense and the solid defense played a crucial role in ensuring the Netherlands’ dominance. The team synergy, especially in crucial moments, became the highlight of their game, demonstrating the depth and breadth of their skills.

Reflecting on Past Glories

For the Netherlands, this bronze medal was a significant achievement. Not only was it their first medal since 2017 at the CEV EuroVolley Women, but it also marked their first bronze since 1985. Given the caliber of teams in the tournament, this accomplishment further emphasized their growing stature in the world of European volleyball.

On the other side, Italy’s journey in the tournament was a mixture of highs and devastating lows. Despite their commendable winning streak, the reigning champions had to grapple with back-to-back losses, ultimately missing out on a podium finish. It was a significant observation that both their defeats came in matches not played on their home court, suggesting potential areas of focus for their upcoming tournaments.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

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