Kraljevo, Serbia, May 31, 2018 – Two fantastic spikers, Tijana Boskovic and Meryem Boz, led their teams in an epic five-set race for a precious FIVB Volleyball Nations League win. In a rollercoaster clash in Kraljevo on Thursday evening, hosts Serbia snatched a 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-12) win over a fighting Turkey.
The young Serbian star Boskovic outscored her Turkish counterpart to become the game’s top pointmaker with 26, including four stuff blocks and the hammer that ended the match in the tie-breaker.
Outside hitter Brankica Mihajlovic and middle blocker and captain Milena Rasic added their high-level performances, as well as 16 points each as a valuable contribution to the Serbian victory.
Meryem Boz scored 20 times for Turkey, while middle blockers Eda Erdem Dundar and Zehra Gunes also went deep into the double digits with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
With the whole-hearted support of the fans in Kraljevo, Serbia won the first set, but allowed a Turkish takeover in the next two. As the big drama unfolded, the Serbs tied it in the fourth to prompt a decider. The tie-breaker was a mini rollercoaster in itself, with the home side eventually emerging on top with their eighth victory in hand.
With Boz on fire, Turkey managed to break away with a three-point lead twice in the first half of the fifth set and twice did the host team manage to draw level. A 103.1 km/h power shot by Boskovic was the momentum changer, after which she took destiny in her own hands. With a monster block she gave Serbia a 12-10 lead, and then hammered two of the remaining three points to celebrate victorious with a 15-12 win.
But Tijana Boskovic’s performance was quite memorable throughout the match. Her 100.9 km/h blasting serve to give Serbia a three-point lead in the first set was one of the highlights early in the match. She was a big part of that seven-point run, which flipped the advantage in the second set to a 20-18 Serbian lead, before the incredible five in a row, with which Turkey sprinted to a 25-22 finish to regain the momentum.
A monster of a single block by Boskovic put the stop to a six-point Turkish run, which gave the home team a late scare in the fourth set, and it was Boskovic again, whose power shot off the block brought Serbia to a quadruple set point – 24-20.
On the other side of the net, Meryam Boz did her best to be a good match for Boskovic and delivered in key moments of the match to keep Turkey in contention. Her successful spike set Turkey off on a four-point series, the first of two big comebacks for the team in the second set, in which she also chipped in with an ace.
Another ace of hers gave Turkey a three-point lead early into the third set. A superb pipe shot by Boz for 20-15 was the start of a five-point run, which made the team unreachable at the end of the set. In set 4, she hammered an ace and another back-row hit for two consecutive Turkish points, trying to keep the team alive in the set.
Boz’s attacks were instrumental in Turkey’s strong start of the tie-breaker, as she scored four of her team’s first seven points on the way to an 8-5 lead.
It was not to be. Even in an epic hard-fought match like this one there is only one winner, and the victory was destined for Boskovic and her teammates, who went into a well-deserved celebration with “Srbija! Srbija!” echoing from the stands...
Turkey’s next trip is to meet up with three Asian sides – Japan, Korea and hosts Thailand – from June 5 through 7 in Nakhon Ratchasrima. Serbia will stay in Europe, but will move to Rotterdam, where the Netherlands will also host the Dominican Republic and Italy.