Al Rayyan stunned favourites Al Arabi 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 36-24) in the final of the Emir Cup yesterday and ended the Reds’ domination in the finals of the prestigious tournament.
At the Qatar Women’s Sports Committee Indoor Hall in the Aspire Zone, defending champions Al Arabi, who won three domestic titles in the current season, were no match for a rejuvenated and motivated Al Rayyan in the final, which was the 16th Emir Cup title clash between the two domestic giants.
Al Arabi’s two out of four titles in the current season came at the expense of Al Rayyan who have been found wanting in defence especially when they needed it the most.
However, yesterday it was different story as Rayyan started off very well by winning the first two sets comfortably in 23 minutes each. In the third, Al Arabi provided stiff resistance, but Rayyan held their nerve to clinch it 36-24 in 36 minutes after a see-saw battle.
Conceding the first two sets, Arabi did what they could to get their act together. They raced to an initial 10-6 lead in the third, thanks to their professional player Gyrogy Grozer’s fierce attacks. Arabi maintained their lead building on their rivals’ poor reception but Al Rayyan captain Osmel Camejo dominated Arabi’s taller blockers with his devastating spikes to turn the tide. Rayyan then led 24-23, needing only one more point to win the set. But Al Arabi stormed back to catch them at 24-24, although Al Rayyan fared better in the final assault to rally past their opponents.
“It is a big win for us at the end of the season. We lost two finals earlier, but winning the Emir Cup is something else. It has erased all our disappointments,” Rayyan coach Carlos Schwanke said.
“As I said before we were better placed for the final and were motivated for the title after a disappointing season. My players executed our plans very well and I am very delighted with the victory.
“I was confident of the victory. We got extra days this time to prepare ourselves as we finished our best-of-three semifinal playoff 2-0 against El Jaish,” he added.
The Brazilian gave credit to his new professional player, Serbian Milos Nikic, who joined them for the Emir Cup and gelled well with Camejo.
Cuban star Camejo scored 15 points for the winners, while Nikic scored 14.
“Our new combination of Nikic and Camejo worked well for us in the championship as it improved our overall game. Nikic is an experienced player and his inclusion has added the value to our team,” he said.
Arabi’s professional spiker Grozer scored a match-high 20 points for them and their American outside hitter Taylor Sander contributed eight.
Besides the Qatar Cup and Super Cup, Al Arabi also won the season-opener Federation Cup defeating El Jaish. However, after that there was an alarming dip in the Reds’ form which resulted in them finishing third in the Qatar League and fifth in the GCC Clubs Championship.
In yesterday’s final, Al Arabi who defeated Qatar league champion Police 2-0 in the playoff, were on a high after the Qatar Cup win, but failed to keep their winning streak intact.
“It is disappointing to lose the final today. Overall we have played a good game throughout the season, but today especially in the first two sets were not up to the mark. The credit also goes to Rayyan as they played the first two sets superbly to outclass us,” Sander said.
The victorious Al Rayyan team celebrate with the Emir Cup trophy after beating favourites Al Arabi yesterday. PICTURES: Jayaram