European powerhouse Turkey started the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in great form as the Turkish cruised past the Dominican Republic in the opening match of Pool B at the Auditorio del Pueblo, in Durango, Mexico, on Monday.

The other match of the pool saw Peru come from behind to defeat Egypt 3-1 in the opening day of the tournament. The two teams that won their opening matches will clash on Tuesday, the second day of action on the pool. Earlier, the Egyptians will face Italy, who were off on Monday.

In the opening match of the pool, Turkey dominated the Dominican Republic and reversed a six-point deficit early in the second set to defeat the Caribbean in straight sets. The Europeans were significantly better in two key aspects of the game, outscoring the Dominicans in kills (39-24) and blocks (11-1).

Middle blocker Berka Ozden was prolific in both of these areas of the game, registering seven kills, five blocks and one ace to lead all scorers with 13 points. Opposite and team captain Pelin Eroktay and outside hitter Ege Bukmen came close at 11 and ten, respectively, while the Dominican top scorers were outside hitter Crismeily Rodriguez and middle blocker Alanae Gonzalez with six points each.

“We’re so happy,” Ozden said. “This was a great first match for us, we played very well and are looking forward to have the same kind of performance in our other matches. We didn’t have a lot of information about the Dominican Republic team, but our coach had a good plan and we adjusted well after the match started. We’re in a difficult group with Italy, which is one of the strongest teams in the tournament, but so are we and I like our chances.”

Peru’s victory had a different script as the South Americans had to fight their way back in to the match after losing the first set to Egypt. Despite being strongly outscored in blocking (11-2), the Peruvians used their skills to be more efficient on offense (59-39) and from the service line (11-6).

Peruvian players celebrate their come-from-behind victory against Egypt

Peruvian players celebrate their come-from-behind victory against Egypt

The duel saw two players cross the 20-point mark with Peruvian captain and outside hitter Alondra Alarcon delivering 26 (25 kills, one ace) and Egyptian outside hitter Toqaallah Eassa tallying 21 (18 kills, three aces).

“It was a great match for us,” Alarcon reflected. “Maybe we were too nervous on the first set but after we calmed down, we managed to fight for the match and win it. Turning the match around like we did helped us getting more confidence in our game for the rest of the tournament. We’re happy that we won and now we just want to build from it.”