In what has to be termed as a career-achievement award, VakifBank Istanbul captain Gozde Kirdar was named the Champions League MVP after leading her team to the 4th Champions League title of her career. Sunday’s gold-medal final, where VakifBank rolled over the tournament hosts from Alba Blaj, marked the last game of Kirdar’s career; she will retire at 32-years old, having played for VakifNank since she was a mere 14-years old.
Kirdar, who injured her left knee while scoring VakifBank’s second-to-last point in the championship match, was named next to a 7-member Dream Team on Sunday after the conclusion of the match. The CEV doesn’t include the MVP in the positional awards, meaning that 8 total players were honored.
Kirdar ranked 17th in the tournament with 114 points, or 3.08/set. She scored 89 points on kills, 4 aces, and had 21 blocks – the latter of which made her one of the most defensive-minded attackers in the tournament.
Watch Kirdar interview below:
- Setter: Joanna Wolosz (POL / Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO)
- Opposite: Ana Yilian Cleger Abel (CUB / CSM Volei Alba BLAJ)
- Outside Hitter: Zhu Ting (CHN / VakifBank ISTANBUL)
- Outside Hitter: Kimberly Hill (USA / Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO)
- Middle Blocker: Milena Rasic (SRB / VakifBank ISTANBUL)
- Middle Blocker: Nneka Obiamaka Onyejekwe (ROU / CSM Volei Alba BLAJ)
- Libero: Hatice Gizem Örge (TUR / VakifBank ISTANBUL)
While Gozde earned the MVP award, the clear best player of the tournament, her teammate and partner at outside hitter Zhu Ting, was named to the Dream Team of the final 4. Ting’s value to her team was never more evident than when VakifBank, after winning the first 2 sets of the semi-final against Conegliano, was dominated in sets 3 and 4 after Zhu left the match with an ankle injury.
She would return, and in the 5th set, even with a little bit of limited mobility, she took 15 of her team’s 26 swings, landing 7 of them and boosting VakifBank to injury.
Zhu led all players in scoring with 229 points – 52 more than Conegliano’s Samanta Fabris, the next-best in that category. That includes 39 points in 2 matches in the Final 4 in Bucharest. Zhu also ranked 3rd in the tournament in spike% (53.87) and 7th in blocks (24).
Conegliano’s Kim Hill joined Zhu at outside hitter, scoring 29 points in the 2 sets and having an astounding 52% excellent receipt.
Also named to the Dream Team as the opposite was Alba Blaj opposite Ana Cleger, who in spite of being limited to just 3 points in the final, ranked 3rd-overall in Final 4 scoring thanks to a 27-point outburst against Galatasaray in the semi-final. Her 5.67 points/set, albeit in just 8 matches played, led all phases of the tournament.
VakifBank’s Milena Rasic, with 13 kills and 7 blocks while hitting 54.17%; and Alba Blaj’s Nneka Onyejekwe, who didn’t have eye-popping raw stats but did hit 66.67% on her 10 kills, were the missle blockers.
Galatasaray, after losing both of its matches by a combined set score of 6-1, was left off the Dream Team altogether.
Final 4 Stats for the Dream Team:
|Points||Points/Set||Kills||Blocks||Aces||Hitting %||Excellent Receipt %|
|MVP: Gozde Kirdar (TUR / VakfiBank Istanbul)||21||2.57||17||3||1||34.69||34.21|
|Setter: Joanna Wolosz (POL / Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO)||8||1||2||4||2||33.33||0.00|
|Opposite: Ana Yilian Cleger Abel (CUB / CSM Volei Alba BLAJ)||30||4.29||26||0||4||40.62||N/A|
|Outside Hitter: Zhu Ting (CHN / VakifBank ISTANBUL)||39||4.29||34||4||1||58.62||17.02|
|Outside Hitter: Kimberly Hill (USA / Imoco Volley CONEGLIANO)||29||3.62||25||1||3||29.68||52.00|
|Middle Blocker: Milena Rasic (SRB / VakifBank ISTANBUL)||23||2.87||13||7||3||54.17||N/A|
|Middle Blocker: Nneka Obiamaka Onyejekwe (ROU / CSM Volei Alba BLAJ)||13||1.86||10||2||1||66.67||N/A|
|Libero: Hatice Gizem Örge (TUR / VakifBank ISTANBUL)||0||0||0||0||0||N/A||39.02|