Defending champions Al Arabi Club clinched their crucial 19th round match against El Jaish in the QVA League at the Qatar Sports Club Indoor Hall on Saturday.
However, the five-set 23-25 25-15 26-24 15-25 15-9 victory in 70 minutes for the 25-time champions hardly did any good to them. Rather, it handed table-toppers Police the elusive League crown, leaving the February 15 feature match between Al Arabi Club and Police as a redundant contest.
Police, who rampaged past eight-time winners Al Rayyan Club on Friday, were in pole position for the title with 51 points from 17 wins in 19 matches.
Both Al Arabi Club and El Jaish required a 3-0 or 3-1 victory to take the fight for the title down to the wire. But Al Arabi, with this five-setter triumph, logged 47 points from 16 triumphs in 19 games. Even if they claim the February 15 match 3-0 against Police, it is not possible for them to overtake them.
El Jaish, who got one point from their five-set loss, could increase their tally to 49 from their 16-4 win-loss record. Should they have won today’s contest, they then could pray for an Al Arabi Club victory by 3-0 or 3-1 in the last League match. And in that case, this would have tied both El Jaish and Police, enforcing a play-off.
But nothing of that sort happened and it was really a result that helped neither of the two contestants.
The players and officials of Police were present at the venue in a big number and celebrated the moments. Now, they can take to the courts on Wednesday against Al Arabi Club without any pressure or worry.
It was the army team, which caught the rivals unawares and an 8-1 push set them up well. Though Al Arabi Club recovered and came quite close to drawing level, El Jaish managed to forge 21-18 ahead, before closing out the set at 23.
Al Arabi Club hit back hard and raced to establish a 21-13 advantage. Soon after clinching the set and equalising the scores, they fell 7-8 behind the army players. The going was tough but Al Arabi Club came through to go 2-1 up.
El Jaish seized the initiative in the fourth set and carved out an encouraging 8-2 lead. Then they would not let it slip through and clinched it 15 to force the tie-break set.
In the decider, Al Arabi Club again piled up big pressure from the attack and block-defence. An early 5-3 opening was converted into big lead of first 10-4 and then 12-4. Taking advantage of the rattled rivals, Al Arabi bagged the set and the match in 70 minutes.
For the winners, Fabricio (21), Miguel (14) and setter Seifeddine Elmajid (12) collected the bulk of points. Veteran middle player Ibrahim Mohamed Ibrahim also secured nine points.
Jarosz was the leading scorer of the match, getting 33 points for El Jaish. Among teammates, only David (11), Youssef (8) and Amar (8) could shine in patches.
In another insignificant match, Al Ahli Club defeated Al Gharafa Club by 25-18 225-22 17-25 26-24 for their 10the victory in 20 matches.
Al Ahli Club defeated Al Gharafa Club by 25-18 25-22 17-25 26-24
Al Arabi Club defeated El Jaish 23-25 25-15 26-24 15-25 15-9