By Sports Reporter/Taipei, Chinese Taipei
Qatar’s Al Rayyan faced no issues in shutting out Australia’s Queensland Pirates in convincing straight sets 3-0 (25-21 25-17 25-21) in the 2019 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the University of Taipei (Tianmu) Gymnasium yesterday.
Kamil Rychlicki led Rayyan with 13 points from 11 attacks and two solid blocks, with Marko Vukasinovic making good company to add 11 points including nine kills from 14 attempts. William Mercer scored a team-high 16 points for Queensland Pirates including 15 attack hits.
Rayyan, fielding three imports in their teams comprising the tall-and-towering Kamil Rychlicki from Luxembourg, Montenegro’s Marko Vukasinovic and Brazilian Marcus Costa, hoped for a brighter prospect in this topflight competition after a stunning 2-3 loss at the hands of India’s Chennai Spartans the previous day.
Against unfancied Aussies, the Qataris relied on the collective rather than any individual, but still had a sea of powerful attacking riches at their disposal.
The tall Rychlicki used his height advantage to overpower the smaller blockers with his devastating attacks to put Rayyans in front 18-16.
Nonetheless, Queensland Pirates maintained their poise, with William Mercer and Mark Nicolaidis emerging as an impressive offensive combination. Aussies reduced the gap to 19-23 before Rayyan allowed them two more points from their unforced attacking mistakes to wrap up the first set 25-21.
Both sides started with almost the same level in the second set as the score was tied at 4-4 before the Qataris broke away with Youssef Oughlaf, Rychlicki and Costa netting some crucial points from their exceptional spikes.
The Qatari side advanced 21-16 and stretched it to 24-17. A moment later, a spike from Mercer went wide, resulting in the Rayyan’s comfortable 25-17 win in this set.
In the third set, both sides tried their best using all what they had to win the set, but the Qataris, after winning the first two sets, came into the set full of confidence and led narrowly 14-12 before stretching it to 18-13.
However, the Aussies taught them victory never comes easily as Mercer and Nicolaidis responded heavily with fine attacks to win some vital points. As the rivals seemingly came back stronger to aim for another life, Rayyan still had enough in their tank to widen it to 24-20.
They allowed the opponents one more point from an Ahmed Noaman’s erratic serve before Costa slammed a powerful mid-court hit to end the Australian challenge.
“We want to clear favourite in this game and so we could win the match without losing a set. We did our best in putting the under control, but still, I think they played well. We lost 2-3 to Chennai the previous day, but fortunately we still secured the top of the pool,” Rayyan’s Kamil
“Our game with Chennai did not go as planned. I think it’s very difficult to play in nine days as you have to shape yourself each day for the up-and-down performances. I hope my team will have a good game against hosts Taichung Bank the following day.”
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