Manila, Philippines, June 23, 2016 – Turkish volleyball giants VakifBank Istanbul have been named as the third of four wildcards set to battle for the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship 2016 in Manila from October 18 to 23.
Giovanni Guidetti’s star-studded squad will be looking to take back the title they won in 2013 when they last featured in the tournament.
The side have been unveiled as participants with 117 days to go before the first serve and, with just one more wildcard, the field is nearly complete.
The top squad from the Bosporus have been one of the most successful clubs in the world over the last few years. Under Guidetti’s lead, the Turks have been on the CEV Champions League podium in five of the last six seasons (2012 the only time they fell outside the top three). But the 2013 season stands out, as the side claimed an historic double of CEV Champions League and Women’s Club World Championship glory. The season eventually went down as one of the greatest for the club as they took five out of five international and national titles – a novelty in Turkish Volleyball.
The past season has been a tough one for the Turks however as they were stunned by hosts Pomì Casalmaggiore in the CEV Champions League gold medal game. The 2016 season, therefore, is a chance at redemption for them.
One thing coach Guidetti does not lack is choice. The Italian has a wealth of talent at his disposal, representing some of the world’s most successful volleyball countries.
Turkish captain and wing spiker Gözde Kirdar leads the pack of home grown stars alongside setter Naz Aydemir Akyol. Under Guidetti’s lead, both of them have become role models for a whole generation of young Turkish volleyball players.
The club can also count on the talismanic Kim Hill, the US wing spiker playing a crucial role for her country at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2014, winning gold and clinching the MVP award.
And they have recently bolstered their armoury for the upcoming season, adding FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup 2015 MVP Zhu Ting to their ranks.
There is also a collection of aspiring youngsters, none more so than Kübra Akman. The 21-year-old middle-blocker has proven herself not only in the star-studded team of VakifBank Istanbul, but also in Turkey’s senior national team. Akman has already become a cornerstone for the Turkish champs and has made a name for herself with her impressive vision of the blocking game.
VakifBank Istanbul will feel they are poised to reclaim their trophy, and with arch-rivals Eczacibasi VitrA earning their first world crown in 2015, there is even more incentive. . At the But if they want to claim a second gold medal in the tournament, the VakifBank Istanbul will need to look horns with 2015 bronze medallists Volero Zurich, the “All Stars” squad from the Philippine SuperLiga, defending Asian champions Bangkok Glass, CEV Champions League winners Pomì Casalmaggiore, 2016 South American Club Championship gold medallists Rexona AdeS Rio de Janeiro, Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul, and one other wildcard team due to be announced in the upcoming weeks.