For the first time in four FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship participations, Türkiye have made it successfully through the first pool phase of the tournament. Opposite Adis Lagumdzija led the team to their second straight-set win at the ongoing 2022 edition and on to the Round of 16.

In the battle for the second available Round of 16 spot in Pool E , the Turks prevailed over Canada to claim a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-17) victory in Ljubljana on Wednesday and progress on a 2-1 win-loss record, most likely as pool runners-up to Italy, who have yet to play their last pool game against China later in the evening (21:15 local time / 19:15 GMT).

Canada, on a 1-2 win-loss record, three points and a 3-6 set ratio, will have to wait for the outcome of that match, and of the last games in Pool A, to find out whether they can also advance to the Round of 16 as the third-placed team with the fourth best record.

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23-year-old striker Adis Lagumdzija was the most prolific player of the match. He contributed 17 points to Türkiye’s victory. In addition to the ace he delivered for 18-12 in the third set, he piled up 16 spiking points at a 53% success rate, including the match winner.

“We are now making history for Turkish volleyball. It’s really important for us, especially after beating two teams who are competing in the VNL. So we are showing that we have the potential and the high level to play there as well,” Lagumdzija said after the game. “The score speaks for itself. It’s 3-0, so everything is really good. We made some mistakes that should not happen, but in the end we won. After the loss to a great team like Italy, to come back and beat Canada 3-0 is amazing for us!”

The only other Turkish player to reach double digits in scoring during the three sets of the match against Canada was outside hitter Baturalp Gungor, who put away 10 points, including an ace for 21-16 in the first set and a block for 12-9 in the second. Middle blocker Faik Samet Gunes was particularly useful at the net, with a 71% success rate in attack and two monster blocks (for 17-11 in the first set and for 11-9 in the second) towards a total tally of seven points.

His fellow middle blocker Bedirhan Bulbul also finished with seven points, including a couple of beautiful overpass hammers as well as the second set winner. His only blocking point extended his team’s lead in the third set to 11-9. Setter and captain Arslan Eksi, on the other hand, aced for Türkiye’s first lead in the match, 3-2 in set one, and then aced again for the team’s first lead in set three, 10-9 after Canada had a 9-7 advantage. He also scored one kill block and the first set winner at his only attempt in attack.

Three players shared the top scorer honours on Canada’s side. Outside hitter and captain Nicholas Hoag, with as many as four aces in the first two sets, the other outside Stephen Maar and opposite Ryan Sclater put away 15 points apiece. Middle blocker Arthur Szwarc impressed with his three back-to-back aces to help Canada narrow down their deficit to 19-16 in set one.

Overall, Canada scored more aces (7 to 5) and spikes (44 to 43) than Türkiye, but with twice as many unforced errors (20 to 10) and the opponents’ much better blocking (7 to 2), the North Americans failed to win a set and lost control of their own fate.