VakifBank shut out Sport Center 1 in Club World Championship opener

Yuan Xinyue against the block of Julia Kudiess

Hosts Tianjin Bohai Bank stunned Brazil’s Gerdau Minas of Belo Horizonte in straight sets on 2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship opening day in Hangzhou on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Türkiye’s VakifBank Spor Kulubu of Istanbul lived up to their status of Pool B favourites and shut out Vietnam’s Sport Center I Women’s Club of Hanoi.

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Pool A

Even without their Cuban-born Turkish star Melissa Vargas in play, China’s Tianjin Bohai Bank mastered a convincing 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-20) sweep of their first Pool A game against Brazil’s Gerdau Minas of Belo Horizonte, to the delight of the home crowd in Hangzhou. Thus, the club from Tianjin achieved their second win in the history of the Club World Championships, after celebrating victorious only once during their two previous appearances.

The first set was the most competitive of the three. First, Minas failed to hold on to the five-point advantage they had at 9-4. Then, they opened another wide gap at 22-19, only to allow the home team six consecutive points towards winning the set. 

That was a momentum changer for the whole match and Tianjin dominated on the court over the next two sets. They finished the third set on a series of four points in a row, with middle blocker Yuan Xinyue bringing in match point with an ace and her cross-court teammate Wang Yuanyuan converting it with a monster block. Outside hitter Li Yingying delivered the match high of 19 points, including two aces and a kill block, for the winners. Wang Yizhu and Yuan Xinyue added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Middle Julia Kudiess raised five kill blocks to lead Minas with a total of 12 points, while opposite Kisy Nascimento finished with 11.


Pool A action in Hangzhou will resume on Thursday at 19:30 local time (11:30 UTC) with Minas looking for recovery against Turkish powerhouse Eczacibasi Dynavit Istanbul.

Pool B

The most decorated team in the history of the competition, four-time club world champions VakifBank Spor Kulubu of Istanbul, allowed no surprises against rookies Sport Center I Women’s Club of Hanoi and hammered out a speedy 3-0 (25-10, 25-15, 25-13) sweep of the tournament opening match on Wednesday. Europe’s club champions from Türkiye dominated over Asia’s club champions from Vietnam on the court throughout the match and achieved an emphatic result, even though head coach Giovanni Guidetti subbed out many of his star players in the course of the game.

VakifBank’s top scorer Zehra Gunes celebrates with her teammates

The blocking made the most impressive difference in the match. VakifBank raised as many as 19 kill blocks against only three from Sport Center I. There was a huge difference in attack (42-24 in spike kills) and on the serve (4-1 in aces). Turkish middle blocker Zehra Gunes led the winning side with 14 points, including six stuffs. Brazilian outside hitter and captain Gabriela Guimaraes and American opposite Jordan Thompson put up three kill blocks apiece to finish with 12 points each. Another American, outside hitter Alexandra Frantti contributed 11 points to VakifBank’s success, while the match winner came from a monster block by 20-year-old Romanian-born Turkish opposite Aleksia Karutasu. Sport Center I’s 21-year-old striker Thi Nhu Quynh Vi was the best scorer of the match with 15 points to her name.

The second Pool B match is between Sport Center I and South America’s continental champions Dentil Praia Clube of Uberlandia, Brazil on Thursday at 14:00 local time (06:00 UTC).

2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship: schedule and results


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