Al Rayyan down Police in four sets, keep Qatar Cup

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Holders and double Arab club title winners Al Rayyan Club displayed both hunger and anger as they went on to tame Police in four sets to win the Qatar Cup Volleyball Championship at the QVA Indoor Hall on Friday. A 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-17 win in 105 minutes fetched The Lions the title a third time in five straight finals.

This was the 10th title in 11 events for Al Rayyan, with the title collection spree starting from the 2016-17 Amir Cup. The only crown they missed during this amazing period was the QVA League that Police bagged recently.

QVA President Ali Ghanim al Kuwari presided over the closing ceremony and gave away the awards. Al Rayyan Club pocketed QR300,000, while Police had to be satisfied with QR200,000 for their second successive runners-up finish.

Al Rayyan Club skipper Mubarak Dahi Waleed, though he missed the final due to injury, was delighted with his team’s performance. “First of all we wish to condole the death of mother of Al Rayyan’s legend and former captain Mubarak Eid. For two years, we’ve proved that we are not only one of the best teams in Qatar but also in Asia. I wish to congratulate all the members of the team and the support staff.

“We were very close to winning even the League. But we fixed our team and won another title. The good thing about our team is that the oldest player in the team is 29 years old. We have a good combination and Inshallah, these players will serve the team for another five years or so at high level. We will continue to work hard and hopefully, we’ll go on to win the Amir Cup as well,” added Waleed.

Al Rayyan Club coach Carlos Schwanke said, “It was good fight between the two teams. We knew that we needed to perform at high level to beat Police. That was exactly we did. We pushed a bit through our service and had a strong attack. We tried to find our own rhythm and upset Police with good block and defence. We lost a bit of attack during the second set that we lost but recovered well to win the title. We’re strong and on the right path. The next target here is the Amir Cup.”

Some solid defence and intelligent touch-outs sent Al Rayyan sent six points clear (12-6) in the first set. Police clawed their way back and reduced the gap to two points (16-18). However, Al Rayyan were just one point from sealing the set when Belal hammered a winner.

Police saved one set point through John Chigbo’s spike but they could not prolong the opener when Marcus pushed the ball down with force to put Al Rayyan 1-0 up. In the second set, a determined Police reversed the trend. Despite Al Rayyan’s repeated attempts to equalise, Mikko Oivanen got the set point with a power-packed smash (24-22).

A big and interesting rally followed and both teams spiked and defended the ball superbly. Eventually, it was Marko Vukasinovic who drilled the ball home. Police responded and Willner Rivas peppered the court with a kill to tie the set scores (1-1).

Al Rayyan broke away early in the third set and Police again recovered, threatening many times to come at par. However, Al Rayyan had solutions to open a two-point gap on their smash opportunity. At 23-22, Marcus fired a kill and gained a touch-out off his next point to put Al Rayyan in the lead again.

The Lions showed their class in the fourth. From being 6-8 down, they bounced back to make it 8-8 and then darted away to a commanding 13-8 advantage. This virtually set them on the course to another title as they led 18-10. Soon, Belal rose from the middle to set up the match point (24-15) and they did not have to wait much as Rychlicki blasted the winner to clinch the title to a noisy celebration by the fans.

Vukasinovic said: “Police gave us some trouble like always. I want to congratulate them for good fight. I want to admire all the people involved in the team. It was a victory of the team spirit. I’m happy that I was able to contribute to the victory in my first year here. It is an amazing feeling.”

Police coach Damiano Arredondo said Al Rayyan blocked his team’s best players in the third set, which proved the turning point. “The key was Al Rayyan’s block on our best players in the third set. Normally, they can get points but they were denied on many occasions. Al Rayyan had a strong service and we were close and will see how we can improve for the last event of the season – the Amir Cup.”

Rychlicki had a match-high 22 points, while his other Al Rayyan teammates Marcus (14), Belal 12), Fawe Bairama (10) and Vukasinovic (9) also made crucial contributions.

For Police, Rivas led the scoring with 19. Nadir Abubakr secured 13 and Chigbo netted 10.

Result
Al Rayyan beat Police 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17 in 105 minutes

Teams-
Al Rayyan Club: Marko, Mohamed (L), Suliman (L), Mubarak Dahi Waleed (captain) Marcus, Marko Vukasinovic (P), Kamil Rychlicki (P), Ahmed Jamal, Belal, Bairama, Milos and Khalid
Coach: Carlos Schwanke. Assistant coach: Ali Ishaq

Police: Nagi (L), Neto, Nadir Abubakr, Ziad, Willner Rivas (P), Mikko Oivanen (P), Moses, John Chigbo (captain), Mohamed Ismail, Isma, Osman and Bobby
Coach: Damiano Arredondo. Assistant coach: Matias Di Fulvio

Qatar Cup Roll of Honour
2013/2014 Al Arabi El Jaish
2014/2015 Al Arabi Al Rayyan
2015/2016 Al Rayyan El Jaish
2016/2017 Al Arabi Al Rayyan
2017/2018 Al Rayyan Police
2018/2019​​Al Rayyan ​​​Police