GCC tourney: Al Rayyan come out tops in all-Qatari clash

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Qatar’s Al Rayyan continued their dominance of local foe Al Arabi on the regional stage on Saturday with their emphatic straight sets (25-21, 25-23, 25-19) trouncing of their opponents at the 36th GCC Clubs Volleyball Championship in Doha.

It was a clearly one-sided affair inside the impressive Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, in the last match of the day, as the coach Carlos Schwanke’s side recorded their second victory in as many matches at the ongoing tournament.

The defending champions Al Rayyan had begun the defence of their title on a victorious note on Thursday as they walloped Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 3-1 (18-25, 30-28, 25-18, 25-18) while Al Arabi, who lost their opening day match to Al Salam of Oman, recorded their first victory, a 3-0 win, against Al Ain of UAE on the same day.

Saturday’s match had all the trappings of a revenge match for the Al Arabi side who were pipped to the regional title by Al Rayyan at the last tournament held in Oman.

The ‘Dream Team’, as the Al Arabi team are popularly called, came out smoking from the blast of the whistle, taking the first point.

The wind was quickly taking out of their sail by the determined Rayyan side, who showed the gulf in class and skill between the two sides as they took the game beyond the reach of their rivals with their good positioning, great serves and wonderful spikes.

Duchan Petkovic was the star of the match for Al Rayyan, a three-time champion of the competition, with his 14-point score on the day.

Petkovic was closely followed by Fadhel Abbass who garnered nine points as they continued in their quest for the defence of their title.

“I’m happy we had a good match today. The win was a great morale booster for us and I believe the quest for the defence of our title is in good shape. We are determined to win on home soil and make it four titles and we are ready to give it all it takes to make the dream come true,” Petkovic said after the match.

Al Rayyan will next face Dar Kulaib of Bahrain on Sunday while Al Arabi will be hoping to record a win as they face Al Ahli of Bahrain on the same day.

In the other matches of the day, Al Salam of Oman posted a 3-1 (25-17, 25-18, 22-25, 25-19) victory over Al Ain on UAE.

Al Ain are effectively out of the quest for the trophy as they have recorded no win in their three matches at the tournament so far.

Their first match against Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday ended in a 3-1 defeat while Qatar’s Al Arabi gave them a hiding in their next match as they slumped to a straight sets defeat.

Dar Kulaib of Bahrain also ended the day on a good note on as they ran away with a 3-2 victory in their match against four-time champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia.

The Bahraini side won (25-20, 25-22, 20-25, 24-26, 15-10) in the match which was decided by the all-important tie-breaker.

Results
Al Salam (Oman) 3-1 Al Ain (UAE) (25/17, 25/18, 22/25 & 25/19)
Dar Kulaib (Bahrain) 3-2 Al Hilal (KSA) (25/20, 25/22, 20/25, 24/26 & 15/10)
Al Rayyan (Qatar) 3-0 Al Arabi (Qatar) (25/21, 25/23 & 25/19)

Sunday March 12
3:30 Al Hilal (KSA) X Al Salam (Oman)
5:30 Al Rayyan (Qatar) X Dar Kulaib (Bahrain)
7:30 Al Arabi (Qatar) X Al Ahli (Bahrain)

Written by: Victor Bolorunduro