MVCC2023 - TURvsUKR_04

Türkiye needed the tie-breaker to advance against Ukraine

Türkiye or Qatar. One of these two national teams will join the elite of men’s volleyball in 2024 by taking part in the Volleyball Nations League for the first time.

Turkish and Qatari prevailed in the semifinals of the FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup 2023 on Saturday in Doha and will meet in the tournament’s final, on Sunday, at 19:00 local time (15:00 UTC), with the winners qualifying for the VNL 2024. Three hours earlier, Ukraine and Chile will play for bronze.

  • Watch Volleyball Challenger Cup 2023 live on VBTV

Türkiye had a match of ups and downs against Ukraine in the first semifinal on Saturday, but managed to secure a 3-2 (18-25, 25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 15-13) victory and advance to the tournament’s gold medal match.

The recently-crowned CEV Golden League winners will now make their second-straight appearance in the Challenger Cup final, having finished second in 2022 – they were also fourth in 2019.

“It was the second time we played Ukraine this summer and it was very tough again,” Türkiye setter and team captain Arslan Eksi said. “The first set wasn’t good for us, but after that, we started playing our game. We had the chance to win it in four, but made some mistakes and they caught us. We started the tie-breaker well, they came back, but we were able to win it. I’m happy to be in the final again. I think we deserve to be in the VNL and we’ll need to show it tomorrow.”

Star opposite Adis Lagumdzija led the Turkish offense against the Ukrainians, producing 19 points (13 kills, one ace, five blocks). Outside hitters Burutay Subasi and Efe Bayram also played major roles in the team’s victory, adding 14 and ten points respectively.

Ukrainian captain and outside hitter Oleh Plotnytskyi led all scorers in the Challenger Cup semifinals, leaving the court with 22 points (19 kills, two aces, one block). Opposite Vasyl Tupchii registered 17 points and outside hitter Illia Kovalov another 14 for the Ukrainians.

Volleyball Challenger Cup 2023: Match Schedule and Results

Playing at home, Qatar got their second sweep in the tournament in the semifinals, pleasing their home fans with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 27-25) victory over Chile on Saturday. The Asians were fifth in their first Challenger Cup appearance, in 2022.

Qatar got excellent production from their outside hitter duo against Chile, with Youssef Oughlaf leading the team’s offense with 16 points (15 kills, one ace), followed by Raimi Wadidie, who tallied 12 points (11 kills, one block).

“We’re so happy to be in the final against Türkiye,” Oughlaf commented. “We had two difficult matches against Thailand and Chile, but I think we knew how to use our serves. We’re ready for the final and I hope we can make something good.”


Qatari players celebrate a point scored against Chile

Chile also heavily relied on their outside hitters to battle Qatar and had team captain Dusan Bonacic leading all scorers with 18 points (16 kills, one ace, one block) and Vicente Parraguirre adding another 15 (13 kills, one ace, one block).

The 2023 Challenger Cup final will feature just the second encounter between the national teams of Türkiye and Qatar. The Europeans won the only one held so far, topping the Asians 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the last edition of the tournament, in 2022.

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Volleyball Challenger Cup 2023
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