Bahrain stormed into the semi-finals of the 2023 West Asian U-19 Volleyball Championship by steamrolling Qatar, 3-0, in their quarter-final in Jeddah last night.
This was the kingdom’s team’s fourth consecutive victory in the tournament after a hat-trick of wins in the preliminary round where they defeated Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Syria in Group B.
Incredibly, Bahrain are yet to lose a set in the championship, a feat unrivalled by the other seven teams in the tournament. They will now play Kuwait, who defeated Jordan, 3-0, in another quarter-final, in today’s semi-final.
The second semi-final will be played between hosts Saudi Arabia – who dismissed Syria, 3-0, in the third quarter-final yesterday – and Lebanon, who emerged 3-0 victors over the UAE, also yesterday.
“Our boys played extremely well,” Bahrain’s head of delegation Salah Janahi told the GDN by phone from Jeddah.
“The players followed the coach’s instructions to the letter and played as a unit. And they made sure that they didn’t make too many mistakes.”
The Bahrainis stamped their authority on the game from the start, racing to a 4-1 lead in the first set and maintaining their three-point advantage ten minutes later with the scoreboard reading 13-10.
Qatar, who lost all three of their Group A matches without winning a set, looked like they were vanquished already. But they re-emerged from a time-out called by their coach to score three quick points while Bahrain managed only and the scoreboard showed only a single point separating the two teams, at 14-13.
But Bahrain reasserted themselves from that point onwards and, before long, had a six-point lead, at 23-17, and were only two away from clinching the first set – which they duly did, 25-17.
They carried that momentum into the second set and soon led by 10 points, at 13-3. The Qataris just could not find an answer to the sustained Bahraini attack as they fell further behind, at 24-10, before the kingdom’s men took the set, 25-10.
After another pep talk by their coach, the Qatar team appeared to be doing better in the third set – which they had to win to stay in the game – as they didn’t allow their opponents to run away with the set as Bahrain had in the second.
However, after finally being able to match Bahrain shot for shot in the opening few minutes of the third set – with the scoreboard showing them trailing by just one point, at 5-4 – the Qataris appeared to lose steam as they allowed their opponents to eke out a six-point lead, at 14-8.
Soon, Bahrain had increased their advantage to seven points, at 18-11, and it was only a matter of time before they clinched the set, 25-19, and sealed a most dominant win.
“They were outstanding,” Janahi said about his players.
“They were very focused and stuck to the tactics that the coach had outlined to complete a very comfortable win.
“Now, hopefully, they will be able to repeat this kind of performance against Kuwait today in the semi-final.”