How Türkiye’s ‘Sultans of the Net’ ruled volleyball in 2023

Turkish women have spent a glorious year in 2023 in international volleyball tournaments as the country’s national team won three titles in a few months.

Coached by Italy’s Daniele Santarelli, Türkiye were influential to be crowned champions in the FIVB Nations League and CEV EuroVolley, qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympics and also topped the world rankings for the first time in history.

Called the “Sultans of the Net,” Türkiye recently won the Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Sept. 24 after having a 7-0 win/loss record in Pool B. Türkiye was the first volleyball team to qualify for Paris 2024 after host nation France.

In Pool B, a Melissa Vargas-led Türkiye respectively beat Puerto Rico 3-0, Bulgaria 3-0, Peru 3-1, Argentina 3-1, Brazil 3-0, hosts Japan 3-1 and Belgium 3-0 in Tokyo between Sept. 16 and 24.

Following the win over Japan, Türkiye on Saturday booked their place at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Serbia, the US and Poland joined Türkiye for next summer’s Olympic Games.

The Sultans of the Net took 22 wins in a row; six in the Nations League, nine in EuroVolley and seven in the Paris 2024 qualifiers.

Paris 2024 will be held between July 26 and Aug. 11.

Türkiye have one of the best generations in women’s volleyball as Vargas (Fenerbahce Opet), Ebrar Karakurt (Lokomotiv Kaliningrad), captain Eda Erdem (Fenerbahce Opet), Zehra Gunes (Vakifbank), Gizem Orge (Fenerbahce Opet) and Hande Baladin (Eczacibasi Dynavit) are the main pillars of the national team.

Top world ranking for first time

Following their first ever victory in the Nations League, Türkiye claimed the world’s top spot for the first time in history, surpassing the US.

Santarelli’s team ranked seventh in the world before the 2023 Nations League held between May 30 and July 16.

Türkiye beat South Korea 3-0, Serbia 3-1 and Italy 3-0 but lost to the US 3-2 in week one held in the Turkish Mediterranean province of Antalya.

The Turkish team won against the Netherlands 3-0, Canada 3-0 and the Dominican Republic 3-1 in week two in Hong Kong. Only Poland beat Türkiye 3-0 in this week.

Türkiye started week three with a 3-2 loss to Japan in Bangkok but then beat Thailand, Brazil and Croatia 3-0 to make their way to the finals in Arlington in the US.

In the quarterfinal stage, Türkiye toppled Italy 3-0 and beat the final round’s host nation US 3-1 in the semis.

The Turkish women won gold in the Nations League with a 3-1 win against China on July 16. It was Türkiye’s first title in the competition.