QATAR’s Al Rayan dashed the Philippines’ hopes with a quick straight-sets win on Monday, marching on to the semifinals while leaving the Power Pinoys to battle it out in the classification round for 5th to 8th placers.
Al Rayan continued its run of shutout wins, downing Philippines PLDT TVolution 25-17, 25-14, 25-21, at the Mall of Asia Arena for its fourth-straight three-setter and fifth consecutive win overall in the Asian Club Men's Volleyball Championship.
The Qatar side has not dropped a set since starting its campaign with a 3-1 victory over Turkemenistan. It next faces Kazakhstan's Kondensat-Zhaikmunay, which defeated Iraq's South Gas Club Sports, 25-21, 25-16, 25-20.
The Philippines and Iraq clash at 12 p.m. on Tuesday in the classification round.
Al-Rayan’s Italian reinforcement Christian Savani came up with 19 points, while Yosleyderder Cala Gerardo and Alhachdadi Mohamed had 10 apiece.
“I'm very happy for the win we are in the semifinals,” said Christian, who skippered the Italian team to a bronze medal finish in the 2012 London Olympics.
It took only 71 minutes for the Qatar squad to finish off the Power Pinoys, but coach Igor Arbutina said the time and scoreline did not reflect how tough the match really was.
“It was not an easy game, Philippine team was a fighting team, they are very strong,” said Arbutina.
The Power Pinoys actually grabbed the upper hand, 11-9, in the third set after a service ace from Australian import Cedric Legrand.
Al-Rayan later regained the lead although the Philippines managed to close in, 22-19, after some uncharacteristic errors by the Qatar side.
“Qatar is a strong team, expected naman na namin ’yun,” admitted Philippines skipper Ian Fernandez. “Nawalan pa kami ng first ball, eh kapag wala kang receive ’di namin kaya i-run ’yung play.”
“Malaki ang Qatar kailangan namin ng combination play para malansi ang blocking na hindi nangyari kasi wala kaming receive," he added.
The Power Pinoys total won spikes equaled the points made by Savani alone (19). Al-Rayan was in control at the net, 10 blocks to two, and had more service aces (6-2).
Legrand finished with nine points for the Philippines.