Bahrain stunned Chinese Taipei 3-0 in straight sets yesterday in their opening Pool D game of the 2022 Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Cup for Men in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.
Wing spiker Naser Anan starred in Bahrain’s AVC Cup debut, top-scoring with 14 points overall, as his team’s convincing 25-18, 25-21, 25-16 victory left Chinese Taipei’s players scratching their heads in consternation at their opponents’ dominance.
“I’m so proud of my players,” Bahrain head coach, Issanaye Ramiress Ferraz told reporters after the match. “Chinese Taipei are a strong team with a fourth-place finish at last year’s Asian Championship to their name. We tried to take it step-by-step and my team played very well. It was a nice job.”
Having entered the third set, of the five-set game, leading 2-0 and looking to finish the match off, Bahrain sped into a 20-13 lead with Anan and fellow wing spiker, Mohamed Abdulla, unleashing powerful attacks that their opponents had no answer for.
Soon, Bahrain were only one point away from clinching the game, at 24-15 and middle blocker, Mohamed Aldawiri, fired an off-the-block spike to do the needful with the score reading 25-16.
The Bahraini players raced into a group huddle to celebrate while the Chinese Taipei players looked crestfallen as they trudged back to their bench.
Earlier, Bahrain had conceded a 3-6 lead at the beginning of the first set, courtesy of some aggressive attacks by Chinese Taipei’s Wu Tsung-Hsuan and Liu Hong-Jie.
But the Bahraini players regrouped well and had soon caught up with their opponents, at 12-12.
Blockers Abbas Al Khabbaz, Hussain Aljeshi and Aldawiri then foiled some explosive attempts by Chinese Taipei and, minutes later, the scoreboard showed Bahrain in the lead, at 19-16. Before long, it had widened to 23-18 and after a few moments, when a serve from Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yi-Huei went wide, Bahrain had taken the first set, 25-18.
With Chinese Taipei still struggling to find their rhythm, Bahrain capitalised on the momentum they had built up in the first set to surge into a quick 12-9 lead in the second and it looked as if the kingdom’s men would take the set quite easily when, a few minutes later, they led 23-18.
Chinese Taipei suddenly found the rhythm they required to stage a fightback and, as Bahrain continued to try and inch toward a 2-0 lead in the game, the gap between the two teams had been reduced to just four points at 24-20 in Bahrain’s favour.
A fast spike by Liu Hong-Jie netted one more point for Chinese Taipei to make it 21-24. But any hopes they had of saving the set were dashed in the next few seconds as an Anan smash made it 25-21 for Bahrain, who were now 2-0 up and heading towards a truly memorable win.
This is Bahrain’s first appearance in the tournament, which has been played every two years since the inaugural edition in 2008, also hosted by Thailand.
The 11 participating teams have been slotted into four groups.
Iran have claimed the title three times, the most by any team, while South Korea, China and defending champions, Qatar, have won the championship once each.
Bahrain will play China, the third team in Pool D, tomorrow. The match is scheduled to start at 2pm, Bahrain time.