Al Arabi Club and Al Rayyan Club will clash in the final of the Qatar Cup volleyball in a repeat of the last year’s title clash.
At Al Arabi Club Indoor Hall on Tuesday, runners-up Al Rayyan were the first to make it to the final when they outclassed Police in straight sets by 25-23 25-20 25-21 in the second semi-final playoff.
Defending champions Al Arabi Club also packed too many punches and proved too strong for El Jaish during their 25-19 25-22 25-12 triumph. At 3-3, Al Arabi launched a potent charge and collected seven points in a row in the first sets. Then there was no turning back for them.
Contrary to the first matches, both Al Arabi and Al Rayyan were cautious and opened gaps with their steady game before sealing the straight wins. In their first match, Al Arabi went full distance before clinching the cliff-hanger and Al Ryyan posted a come-from-behind 4-0 victory.
The final is scheduled on May 2.
The first set between Al Rayyan and Police was the most contesting among the three. With Jan Stokr and Cristian Savani leading the attack, Al Rayyan managed to hold off the rivals.
In the second, both followed each other. At 14-14, Al Rayyan gained a four-point edge off Stokr’s brilliant service after Police’s only professional, Jose Miguel Caceres was blocked. Twice Police fought back to reduce the margin to two points.
The Daniele Bagnoli-tutored Al Rayyan, at 23-20, secured the set point with Mohamed Alaoui drilled a smash. Mubarak Dahi Waleed clinched a 2-0 lead when his floating service could not be returned by Police.
The third set looked to be becoming lop-sided initially with Al Rayyan going 7-4 up. But Police caught them up when Caceres fired a superb smash. This was followed by both teams going up and down in turns.
At 22-20, Mohamed Hachdadi served into the net. But Police also returned the favour with Caceres also having a faulty serve. Savanni unleashed a smash to set up the first match point and then a triple block off Nadir Abobacr wrapped up the match.
Police coach Yousef Fredoun said his team could not survive due to not having a strong bench strength.”We battled hard but you may see that we’re basically playing with only seven-eight players. We don’t have even a second professional.
“John Chigbo is injured and we missed him in the middle play. Hopefully, he will be fit during the Emir Cup. We tried our hardest but Al Rayyan are much better and much stronger.
“We played the last match fine. But today, we got stuck at certain moments and could not find the solutions. We’ll see how we play in the upcoming Emir Cup,” added Fredoun.
Al Rayyan’s Stokr, who is one of the best opposites in the world and has won multiple World Club Championship with Trentino before joining Russia’s Dynamo Krasnodar, said,”Maybe, we were better today but we still had some problems in the middle of the third set. Al Rayyan is a quite experienced team during the domestic championships and I’m happy to do my job for the team.
“Like last year, the level of these championships is high and many good players are playing. You can’t take any team lightly,” added the Czech.
Al Rayyan libero Suleiman said,”Police have good players and I think they played good even today. We’re very happy with 3-0 result.
“We played fine but I hope we can still raise our level. We’ll try to do well in the final as well,” said the libero.
Al Rayyan Club beat Police 25-23 25-20 25-21
Al Arabi Club beat El Jaish 25-19 25-22 25-12