Doha, Qatar, December 20, 2010 – As widely expected, Fenerbahce qualified for the final of the 2010 FIVB Women's Club World Championship by cruising past the representatives of NORCECA, Mirador, in three straight sets (25-21, 25-18, 25-18) on Monday morning.
The Turkish team maintained their perfect record here in Doha with the victory – with no sets lost so far – and will now be vying for the world crown with the winners of the second semifinal scheduled for later on Monday between Foppapedretti Bergamo and Sollys Osasco. Liubov Sokolova, the two-time world champion and former Olympic silver medallist in 2000 and 2004, played a decisive role for Fenerbahce, contributing 14 points in the game even though Katarzyna Skowronska topped the scorers' chart with 18.
Fenerbahce started this semifinal with their usual line-up including 40-year-old setter Fofao and Russian star Sokolova, who recently claimed a second consecutive world title in Japan with her national team. The score stayed close up to the first mandatory stop, with the Caribbean outsiders successfully completing most of their side-outs and even taking an 8-6 lead after a couple of defensive slips by the Turkish side. It then fell to Sokolova to draw the count to eight-all with a delicious tip and a mighty crosscourt.
The contribution of the 33-year-old Russian spiker really made the difference for Fenerbahce as they built up a 16-12 lead by the second technical break. There was a decent atmosphere inside the Al Garafa sports hall with a group of local schoolboys joining the Turkish supporters in creating some noise and they were able to enjoy Volleyball at its finest – not least from Natasa Osmokrovic who was showing incredible efficiency in reception for Fenerbahce.
At 20-14 coach Ze Roberto decided to replace Fofao with young rising star Naz Aydemir, but this change lasted for only a couple of rallies after Fenerbahce missed the next two attacks. The Brazilian coach even opted to call a time-out as the Dominicans moved dangerously close to drawing level. That was ultimately not the case, though, since – once again – Fofao decided to use the ever-reliable Sokolova as her main option in attack (23-18); 'Liuba' set up set point with an attack from the right wing and the set was finally over after a double block from Skowronska and Christiane Furst (25-21).
Fenerbahce got off to a flying start in set No2 (4-0) and they did not slow down (11-6), showing impressive consistency in every aspect of their play. They are a team with 12 world-class players at their disposal and, after finishing second in the last edition of the CEV Champions League, strengthened their roster with the openly declared purpose of claiming the title in Europe as well as at the FIVB Club World Championships here in Doha.
After Fenerbahce moved 8-2 in front at the start of the third set, the only question now was whether they would retain their concentration and focus. Despite one or two wobbles, the Turkish side never lost control of proceedings and with a couple of pipes Sokolova helped them claim the last and decisive break (20-15). The Turkish fans could now finally celebrate their qualification for the final game with Osmokrovic delivering on match point.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS