GCC tourney: Al Arabi win; Al Rayyan falter against Bahraini clubs

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Qatar’s Al Arabi, the 2010 champions, on Sunday emerged victorious in their clash against Al Ahli of Bahrain at the ongoing 36th GCC Clubs Volleyball Championship being held at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena in Doha.

The ‘Dream Team’, who lost to local rivals Al Rayyan on Saturday, bounced back to winning ways by posting a convincing 3-1 (25-23, 25-20, 21-25, 25-18) victory over the Bahraini side who are considered as one of the strongest side at the regional tournament.

While it was a good day for Al Arabi, things, however, did not go according to plans for the defending champions Al Rayyan of Qatar who were handed a 1-3 (16-25, 25-15, 22-25, 22-25) defeat by Bahrain’s Dar Kulaib.

It was the first defeat of the tournament for the Qatari side who had won their first two matches in style, posting impressive results against Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia and local foe Al Arabi respectively.

The first set gave an indication of what was to be expected in the match with Al Rayyan losing for the first time in the tournament by a nine-point margin.

Stunned by the initial result, the coach Carlos Schwanke’s team were jolted out of their sleep and went to work in the second set which they won impressively with a 10-point margin.

However, their spirited efforts only lasted the second set before Dar Kulaib stepped up the gear and took control of the game once again to take the third and fourth set in style.

The match was a big boost for the Bahraini side who have now won two of their three matches played at the championship with their opening day loss to fellow Bahraini side, Al Ahli, being their only defeat so far.

“We are disappointed with today’s result but we believe we will bounce back in our next match. It is our intention to win all our matches at this tournament but we won’t allow this temporary setback to derail our plan. We will continue to give our best and with luck on our side, we will win this tournament,” Al Rayyan’s coach Schwanke said after the match.

Three-time champions Al Rayyan will have their work cut out for them as they next face Al Ahli on Tuesday while Dar Kulaib will go up against UAE’s Al Ain, who only have pride to play for having lost all three of their matches played. Al Arabi, on the other hand, will next face Al Hilal in a must-win encounter.

Qatar Volleyball Association (QVA) President Ali Ghanem al Kuwari was among the dignitaries who watched the on-court actions on Sunday.

Meanwhile, four-time champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia narrowly lost to Al Salam of Oman on the day.

The Omanis came out tops winning 3-2 (21-25, 25-14, 20-25, 25-22, 15-12) in the thrilling encounter which was decided by a tie-breaker.

The Saudis, who are the most-decorated club at the ongoing tournament, are not having a good time this time around as they have now lost for a second time in a row. Their only victory at the tournament was their opening day win against tournament’s whipping boys – Al Ain.