Osaka, Japan, October 10, 2018 - Turkey scored their first win in Pool F by defeating Azerbaijan 3-1 in the first match of the day at Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium on Wednesday afternoon. The Turks won 26-24, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21 to improve their win-loss record to 4-4 with this first victory in the second round. Azerbaijan dropped to 2-6 after eight of the nine matches in the first two rounds.
Meryem Boz led Turkey's scoring chart with 23 points, including 20 spikes. Meliha Ismailoglu added 13. Turkey registered 14 block points, with six for Zehra Gunes.
Natalya Mammadova enjoyed a fine game for Azerbaijan with 22 points, including 17 spikes, and captain Odina Aliyeva added 10 with three blocks.
Turkey started really well, with Zehra Gunes, Hande Baladin and Meryem Boz helping them to establish an early advantage. The Turks looked much sharper and hungrier than Azerbaijan, who took some time to wake up for this first match of the day.
It was Natalya Mammadova who led the Azerbaijan response with some excellent spiking and blocking, supported by the ever reliable Olena Hasanova, who has had a fine tournament as a quick and mobile middle blocker. When setter Krystsina Yagubova served an ace, Azerbaijan were level at 13-13.
Mammadova and Baladin traded fierce spikes down the stretch before Turkey gained two set points at 24-22, only to miss them both. Azerbaijan's serve let them down at this critical time and Cansu Ozbay's floating southpaw serve gave Turkey the first set 26-24 on their third set point.
In the second set, Boz took the attack to Azerbaijan with some sparkling hits out wide and down the middle after soaring from the back court, and the serves of captain Eda Erdem added to their problems. Gunes, too, spiked and blocked aggressively and Turkey led 16-11 at the second TTO.
A superb Baladin block on Aliyeva highlighted Turkey's ascendancy and the lead stood at 20-14 when Azerbaijan called a TO. Meliha Ismailoglu hammered them closer to their target and the Turks took the second set 25-17.
In the third set, Mammadova continued to trouble the Turkish defence and added to her tally as Azerbaijan forced Turkey into a TO trailing 13-9. Hasanova and Yagubova, who showed her strength to win a loose ball at the net, kept Azerbaijan moving forward to 20-17 and a Turkey TO. Turkey could not find the rhythm of the first two sets but recovered late in the set to give them hope of a straight-sets sweep as Erdem, Boz and Ismailoglu all reduced the gap.
Mammadova made sure there would be no Turkish sweep as she led Azerbaijan to the third set 25-22 on their first set point.
Azerbaijan had really tightened up their block and mid-court defence, with Aliyeva and Hasanova forming a tough partnership and Ayshan Abdulazimova also stopping the Turkish attack, and the Turks were having to work much harder for their points. Seyma Ercan was introduced into the Turkish attack and helped them lead 16-15 at the second TTO.
Erdem and Ebrar Karakurt stepped up the pace for Turkey, who had four match points at 24-20 before finishing it 25-21 with a Boz winner.