Nanjing, China, June 28, 2018 - Middle blocker Hande Baladin was the hero with 18 points as Turkey stunned Serbia with a 3-2 (20-25, 25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 16-14) victory on Thursday that has thrown Pool B in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League finals wide open.
It was a gripping encounter with fortunes see-sawing between the two teams but the Turks dug deep - just when the match seemed to be slipping away - and they had much to thank Baladin for, as she was a pillar of strength all match, with 14 kills, three blocks and an ace on her personal ledger.
Wing spiker Ebrar Karakurt stepped up with 13 points, while the nine blocks shared between Zehra Gunes (five) and Eda Erdem Dundar (four) were telling for Turkey.
Serbia had rallied hard behind star opposite Tijana Boskovic's match-leading 29 points - built on 27 kills - but they just couldn't shake off a valiant Turkish outfit who edged them in the decider.
Middle blocker Milena Rasic contributed 14 points for Serbia - but her 17 block attempts (for three won) reflected how hard their opponents worked the net all match.
The Turks - who surprised many with their run into this inaugural final series - looked to be running away with the match through the middle stages but their hard work over the past weeks seemed to take its toll during the middle stages. But they dug deep when it mattered to keep their finals campaign alive and kicking.
Fans in Nanjing have already been treated to some stunning individual efforts in these finals - American Michelle Bartsch-Hackley's 21 points leading her team to victory over Turkey the night before, while Chinese captain Zhu Ting's 35 did the same as her team beat the Netherlands. On Thursday they saw similar heroics from both Baladin and Boskovic.
The Serbs should certainly have arrived at the Olympic Sports Centre with a well-earned air of confidence, given they beat both Pool A rivals, the USA and Turkey, in the VNL's preliminary rounds. But Turkey had come close to beating the Serbs, losing 3-2 when the two nations met back on May 31.
Turkey were the last team to qualify for the inaugural VNL finals and had opened up their first Pool A match against Team USA on Wednesday in brilliant form - winning the first two sets - before being overwhelmed by the reigning world champions. It looked for a long time like being a repeat performance but they found more when it was needed most this time around.
So the Turks now sit back with a rest day on Friday as they wait for the permutations to work themselves out. For the Serbs the path is clear - they must beat world champions the USA if they are to have any hope of moving into Saturday's semifinals.