Different strokes for Qatari clubs at GCC Clubs tourney

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Three-time champions Al Rayyan bounced back to winning ways with a resounding straight sets (25-21, 25-21, 25-21) victory over Al Ahli of Bahrain at the 36th GCC Clubs Volleyball Championship in Doha on Tuesday.

The Qatari side, who are the defending champions, were clearly the better side in what was an almost no-contest at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena.

Coached by Brazilian Carlos Schwanke, the team who were on Sunday stunned 1-3 (16-25, 25-15, 22-25, 22-25) by Bahrain’s Dar Kulaib – their only defeat of the tournament so far – were baying for blood from the onset of the game as was evident in their aggressive pattern of attacks and serves.

The determination paid off as they took the first set in just 25 minutes, setting the tone for what was to be a dominant victory.
Ahead of the game, the Al Rayyan coach had said that he would not allow the defeat to Dar Kulaib to derail their plans of winning the title on home soil, and his words rang true on the day as the results proved him right.

Duchan Petkovic was once more the man-of-the-match for the Qatari side as he scored 17 of the 75 points Qatar recorded on the day while Moubarak Dahl’s 16 points makes him the second-highest scorer for Al Rayyan in the match.

“We are happy with the result and equally happy that we were able to shake off the disappointments of the last match which ended in defeat. Al Ahli are a very strong side and the results today do little to show the quality of the opposition,” Petkovic said after the victory.

“We are more determined than ever to win this tournament and I think we are moving in the right direction. We have two more matches and if we win them, then the trophy will be ours and we will ensure we do just that,” he added.

With the result, Al Rayyan have now won three of the four matches played so far, placing them in the driver’s seat of the round-robin competition whose winner will be determined by the highest number of points.

The team will next face whipping boys Al Ain of UAE on Wednesday while Al Ahli have a date with Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia on the same day.

While Al Rayyan had every reason to celebrate, the reverse was however the case for the country’s other representatives, Al Arabi, who suffered a disappointing 2-3 (31-33, 25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 10-15) loss to Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, a four-time winner.

The match, which was decided by a tie-breaker, was a ding-dong affair with the ‘Dream Team’ having to come back from defeat twice in the highly entertaining encounter.

They could, however, not sustain the fireworks from the more experienced Saudis in the decider as they succumbed to a 10-15 loss to the disappointment of the fans.

With the loss, the hopes of winning the championship is almost over for the Qatari side as they have now recorded two losses from four matches so far.

The team will next face Dar Kulaib of Bahrain on Friday in their last match.

In the other match of the day, Dar Kulaib of Bahrain had an easy ride in their match against Al Ain of UAE as they hardly broke any sweat in their 3-0 (25-18, 29-27,25-12) win against the Emirati side who are yet to record a win so far.